23.11 - U.S. shopping madness begins, markets closed for holiday
- by Roger Gain
It’s thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. today, meaning that stock markets will remain closed for today. U.S. shoppers are ready for the biggest shopping weekend of the year with tomorrow’s “Black Friday”. Meanwhile, the USD is steady at the moment after suffering its worst day in 6 months in recent session. Elsewhere, Oil prices hold on at 2.5-year highs level on a thin holiday trade. These are the big things to know for today.
The biggest shopping weekend of the year in the U.S. kicks off “officially” on Thursday with more than 164 million Americans planning to hit the stores.
The estimate corresponds to 69% of the U.S. population in this year’s survey that includes, for the first time, the numbers for Cyber Monday in addition to Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Sunday.
Of those considering shopping the long holiday weekend, the survey found that 20% plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day (32 million) but Black Friday will remain the busiest day with 70% planning to shop then (115 million).
A substantial 43% are expected to shop on Saturday (71 million), with 76% saying they will do so specifically to support Small Business Saturday. On Sunday, 21% expect to shop (35 million) and 48% are expected to shop on Cyber Monday (78 million).
With many retailers having cited the “tough retail environment” in third quarter earnings and forecasts, markets will be keeping an eye on brick and mortar stores to see how they stock up against the online onslaught.
That came after the Fed minutes revealed that “many participants” showed concern over the inflation outlook, mirroring recent remarks by outgoing Fed chair Janet Yellen that it was “very uncertain” and sparking speculation that the future path of tightening may not be as aggressive as originally thought.
The Fed minutes did confirm that, based on expectations for continued solid growth and a strengthening labor market, “another increase in the target range for the federal funds rate was likely to be warranted in the near term”.
Chinese mainland equities slumped across the board on Thursday with the Shanghai Composite ending 2.3% lower with experts citing volatility in the country’s bond market spilling over into bearish sentiment on stocks.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng saw the least damage with a 0.8% loss as the index was buoyed by sentiment that sent the benchmark to a 10-year high in the prior session.
All this on a day when the New York Stock Exchange will remain silent with traders celebrating Thanksgiving Day. Trading has been light in this holiday shortened week with Wall Street returning to operation on Friday for only half a day.
U.S. futures saw tepid gains in early morning trade in slight rebound from losses seen in the Dow and S&P 500 the prior day. The Nasdaq Composite was the only major benchmark to end at fresh record eyes as it closed Wednesday with tepid gains of 0.07%.
Japanese stocks were also closed Thursday for a holiday. Meanwhile, European bourses were mostly higher on Thursday, boosted by positive manufacturing and service sector activity data.
Oil prices were a bit lower on Thursday, but still remained near their highest level in two-and-a-half years amid optimism that the crude market was well on its way towards rebalancing.
Domestic crude stockpiles have dropped by 15% from their records in March, to below 2016 levels, boosting optimism that the U.S. oil market is tightening.
Prices received additional support from growing signals that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will agree to prolong supply curbs beyond March when producers meet in Vienna on November 30.