Spotlight on the economy: Probably no holiday bonanza for retailers in December «
The amount of sales at retail stores is usually a good window in the U.S. economy, but the picture was hazy in December.
Companies generated plenty of foot traffic in the final month of the year, but they also were forced to discount more heavily than usual to seal the deal with budget-hunting consumers and fend off the competition. What also weighed on the retail sector last month was a deceleration in auto sales from November’s post-recession high.
U.S. retail sales are expected to decline by 0.1% overall, according to economists polled by MarketWatch. If autos are excluded, however, the industry could show a modest 0.4% gain. The report will be released at 8:30 a.m. by the Commerce Department.
Investors will also scrutinize speeches by a pair of Federal Reserve bank presidents, Charles Plosser of Philadelphia and Richard Fisher of Dallas, for clues on the central bank’s next move.
Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart on Monday suggested the central bank is likely to cut bond purchases again soon – comments that rattled U.S. markets. Massive Fed bond purchases over the past year and a half have boosted stocks and kept U.S. interest rates exceedingly low.
Another report to keep an eye on Tuesday is the monthly small-business survey by the National Federation of Independent Business.
Also Tuesday, U.S. import prices for December and business inventories in November are projected to increase.