Osmin Tejada from Lotus Designs florist delivers a holiday wreath on Black Friday in Boston, Massachusetts, November 29, 2013.
Stocks spent most of the day in the green during today's abbreviated trading session. But they closed a hair in the red.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 16,086.4 (-10.9, -0.0%)
- S&P 500: 1,805.8 (-1.4, -0.0%)
- Nasdaq: 4,059.8 (+15.1, 0.3%)
And now the top stories :
- It's "Black Friday," the day when thrifty American shoppers work off some Thanksgiving dinner calories and take advantage of fleeting bargains. Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, told CNBC today that he was seeing "record breaking" numbers.
- "We would warn against reading too much into the performance of retail sales on Black Friday as there is little evidence that it will set the tone for sales during the whole holiday season," said Capital Economics via Slate's Matthew Yglesias. Here's Yglesias: "What happens specifically in the days immediately following Thanksgiving is probably driven by the weather, regulatory changes, etc. For example, I'm sitting in my dad's living room right now and have no particular intention of leaving any time soon. If it were warmer, I'd probably go for a walk and check out some stores."
- Having said that, economists still expect this to be an up year for holiday sales. "Consumers likely will remain cautious as economic and policy uncertainty factors into their holiday purchase decisions," said Wells Fargo's Eugenio Aleman. "Our expectation is that holiday sales will rise 3.7 percent over last year’s levels, roughly in line with the National Retail Federations’ projected 3.9 percent increase." However, the NRF estimates the average holiday shopper will spend $737.95 this year compared with $752.24 last year.
- "We should call this 'Green Friday,'" tweeted PIMCO's Bill Gross early in the trading session. "Be careful, though, of red numbers in 2014. All markets are bubbly." Gross appears to be referring to the stock market rally.
- Speaking of bubbles, economist Nouriel Roubini warned that a bunch of housing markets are looking bubbly to him. "Signs that home prices are entering bubble territory in these economies include fast-rising home prices, high and rising price-to-income ratios, and high levels of mortgage debt as a share of household debt. In most advanced economies, bubbles are being inflated by very low short- and long-term interest rates."
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