Friday, November 29, 2013

Markets rise on hopes for Black Friday retail sales

Dow rose 53 to yet another record, advancers over decliners almost 2-1 & NAZ gained 18.  The MLP index went up 1+ to the 456s & the REIT index lost 2+ to the 265s.  Junk bond funds inched higher & Treasuries were a little soft.  Oil is headed for a 3rd monthly decline, the longest losing streak in almost 5 years, amid rising OPEC exports &increased supplies in the US.  Gold is flattish.

AMJ (Alerian MLP Index tracking fund)

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Treasury yields:

U.S. 3-month


U.S. 2-year


U.S. 10-year


CLG14.NYM...Crude Oil Feb 14............93.19 Up ....0.56 (0.6%)

ZGZ13.CBT.....Gold 100 oz. Dec 13...1,238.50 Up ...1.50 (0.1%)

Black Friday

Photo:   Bloomberg

Shoppers were lured by the discounts to begin the shopping season yesterday.  Millions interrupted Thanksgiving celebrations to go shopping as chains opened earlier than ever to win market share in a holiday shopping season that researcher ShopperTrak predicts will be the weakest since 2009.  Millions more will hit the malls today for the annual Black Friday sales event.  Faced with smaller crowds of less confident shoppers as well as 6 fewer days between Thanksgiving & Christmas than last year, retailers are pouring on margin-eating discounts.  As many as 140M planned to shop in stores & online yesterday thru Sun, the National Retail Federation said, down from 147M last year & Black Friday will be the biggest day of the weekend, with about 97M shoppers.  Macy's (M) CEO Terry Lundgren said 15K shoppers waited to enter it Herald Square store in NY at 8PM last night, up from 11K at midnight a year earlier . Cold-weather apparel & boots were popular, he said.  “We had a lot of momentum going into the fourth quarter,” he said. 
Taubman Centers (TCO) said the parking lots at its Northlake Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina, were 90%t full by 11PM yesterday, after opening at 8PM.  But the company said there was more traffic than last year, when the shopping center opened at midnight.

U.S. Retailers Lure Shoppers With Black Friday Deals

Apple Won 76% of Japan Smartphone Sales in October, Kantar Says

Photo:   Bloomberg

Apple sold 3 of every 4 smartphones in Japan last month after the country’s largest carrier, NTI Docomo, began carrying the iPhone.  AAPL won 76% of Japanese smartphone sales last month, market researcher Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said.  Its share of smartphone sales at NTT Docomo was 61% after it began offering the iPhone for the first time, Kantar said.  Japan’s 3 wireless carriers sell iPhones after NTT Docomo, the nation’s largest, ended its holdout against the handset as it attempts to regain market share from smaller rivals which already stock the devices.  NTT Docomo had 45.7% of Japanese mobile subscribers in Oct compared with 29% for KDDI & 25.3% for SoftBank according to Bloomberg.  AAPL introduced 2 new iPhones, including a cheaper version in bright colors & an updated high-end device that NTT Docomo began selling in Japan on Sep 20.  AAPL stock has been strong & rose another 5+.

Apple Won 76% of Japan Smartphone Sales in October, Kantar Worldpanel Says

Apple (AAPL)

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Obama Ending Each Day With Update

Photo:   Bloomberg

The administration has said the troubled website will function smoothly by the end of tomorrow.  But those paid to help enroll Americans in Obamacare remain doubtful.  The “navigators” designated to sign people up for insurance under the health-care overhaul say that while the federal online insurance exchange has improved since its Oct 1 debut, outages & errors continue to prevent many from using it to buy their coverage., which serves 36 states including Florida & Alaska, was designed to help uninsured Americans buy new health plans by Mar 31.  Enroll Alaska has signed up 52 people in health plans out of about 2200 who have requested help since the site opened & it's mostly successful with simple cases.  For uncommon financial situations, the has not able to function well.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, reiterated the administration’s pledge to have the site working smoothly for “the vast majority of users” by Dec.1.  The gov has added storage capacity to the data center & boosted processing power so it should be able to handle 800K visits a day & 50K users simultaneously.  Still unexpected outages & periods of slowness along with times when traffic is heavier than the site can handle are expected.  Why didn't they do this 3 years ago?  The answer is easy.  Sloppy is the new gov standard.  This disaster is a drag on the economy & will get worse next year when more enroll.

Hit-and-Miss Obamacare Site Still Frustrating at Deadline

As usual on the Fri following Thanksgiving, volume is very light.  But the little activity is on the buy side as early signals about Black Friday sales have been encouraging.  However, this is a very short shopping season, putting pressure on retails to deliver results.  Next week, the heat will be turned on in DC as key budget battle deadlines approach.

Dow Jones Industrials

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