US Markets Respond to Economic Recovery Indications

In an effort to capture as many consumer dollars possible, some US retailers started Black Friday sales on Thursday, while others extended their specials through to the end of the week following the biggest retail event on US consumer calendars. The results revealed that shopping patterns are shifting, and according to the National Retail Federation, US consumers spent on average $365.34 as compared to last year’s $343.31 for this period. The total amount spent over the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend was around $45 billion, with more than 212 million shoppers swelling the crowds, apart from consumers who did their shopping online. So, in general, both retailers and shoppers scored from the frenzied spending spree, and the outlook for economic recovery brightened with the good start to the holiday season.

More good news for markets came from the Federal Reserve when it was revealed that the US economy sustained its gradual improvement through the months of October and November, with expectations that this trend will continue for some time – slow, but steady. The Fed’s Beige Book, which provides a profile of economic conditions across all market sectors for twelve districts, confirmed the slow, but steady, growth trend in the economy.

Improved employment statistics, including the 39,000 private sector jobs gained in November, further boosted investor confidence, which in turn had a positive effect on stock market indicators on Wednesday December 1. The Dow streaked ahead with 249 points to close at 11,256; the Standard & Poor’s 500 climbed 25 points to close at 1,206; and the Nasdaq rose 51 points to 2,549, being 2.3%, 2.2% and 2% respectively. For the Dow, Wednesday’s result was its largest one-day boost since the beginning of September, with all 30 components showing an improvement. Leading the pack was Home Depot with an increase close to 5%, with Microsoft, United Technologies and Alcoa all gaining more than 3%.

So, despite adverse economic conditions in Europe, with Spain and Portugal likely to seek aid from the EU, as well as the £72 billion bailout of Ireland, US markets found reason to be quietly upbeat about US economic recovery as reflected in the major stock market indicators, and this is likely to have long-range positive effects on the lives of US citizens.