Stock futures are higher at the moment after stronger than expected retail sales in Germany sparked a rally in the Dax (^GDAXI) and Brent crude oil.
Let's just stop for a moment and unpack that lede. It's accurate. German retail sales grew by 1% last month. On the margin that's good. Heaven knows we've talked enough about the crash in oil being bad for asset price stability to agree that a pause in descent is welcomed.
The question isn't accuracy but whether or not individual investors in the U.S. should concern themselves with day to day fluctuations of crude priced in fake currency terms 5,000 miles from home.
We're seven days into 2015. I can say without reservation that this will be an unspeakably terrible year for markets and humanity in general unless shares of companies like Apple (AAPL) can stop fluctuating based on German economic data. That's not just because Germany is particularly humorless or dismal. It's because it's not America. As a rule of thumb when American investors are forced to talk about anything other than American stocks it's bad for equities.
Right now the stock market is in that uncomfortable interstitial between the end of the quarter and reporting season when we have organic domestic news of our own. Now, as in early October, the rest of the planet is relatively screwed up. JCPenney (JCP), the most mediocre department store retailer in the country expects to report 3 to 4% sales growth this quarter. We're crushing the rest of the world on an economic basis and unless you're looking for a good entry point for stocks you're better off focusing on that fact than looking for stability overseas.
This too shall pass. Companies start reporting on Monday. By next Wednesday I promise you won't care about how December was for retailers in Munich. Until then for the sake of your sanity, mood and portfolio it's best not to make too many rash decisions based on headlines.