Monday January 2, 2017 – Friday January 6, 2017
On Monday, markets were closed for the New Year’s holiday. On Tuesday, the PMI manufacturing index for December was up .2 to 54.3, a 21 month high and the ISM manufacturing index was up 1.5 points to 54.7, a two year high. Construction spending for November increased .9% to its highest level in over 10 years. Markets rose with the Dow Industrials gaining 119 points.
On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of its latest meeting expressing caution due to increased uncertainty about how the economy will respond to future fiscal, tax, and regulatory policies implemented by the next President’s administration. However, many participants were concerned that if the unemployment rate continues to fall, faster than expected increases in interest rates may occur. As a result, participants raised their estimates of two rate hikes to occur 2017 to three. However, they noted that inflation is still below the 2% target rate. Markets ended the day modestly higher.
On Thursday, the ADP employment report for December was down 62,000 to 153,000, below expectations, and jobless claims for the week ending December 31st were down 28,000 to 235,000, extremely low, however, seven states had to be estimated. The ISM non-manufacturing index for December was unchanged at 57.2, and the EIA petroleum status report for the week ending December 30th showed crude oil inventories dropping 7.1 million barrels. U.S. Treasury 10 year notes yielded 2.36%.
On Friday nonfarm payrolls for December were lower than expected coming in at 156,000, the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.7%, and average hourly earnings rose .4%. Markets opened mostly unchanged on the news. Now let’s take a look at some stocks.
Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE: M) announced that they will lay off 10,000 workers along with lowering their earnings outlook after the company posted disappointing holiday sales, pushing the stock down more than 13%. Macy’s comparable-store sales fell 2.1% in November and December, which was at the lower end of its projections, however, it maintained its full-year comparable sales guidance of a 2.5% to 3% decline.
General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) reported an increase of 10% in U.S. auto sales in December, surpassing previous estimates of 3.5%. The company’s Chevrolet brand rose 12.8% to almost 213,000 vehicles. Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations, said in the statement that they will begin the year well positioned to continue growing its U.S. retail business. Shares rose over 4% on the news.
Shares of Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX) jumped nearly 16% Tuesday afternoon after completing its split into two companies, one for its business services and another for its copier and printer business. Last December 31st, Xerox shareholders received one common share of Conduent, the new spinoff, for every five shares of Xerox’s common stock they held as of December 15th.
Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:SHLD) continues to close unprofitable stores in an attempt to increase sales impact and return the company to profitability. Funding from CEO Eddie Lampert has also helped but many stores continue to remain unprofitable. Seritage Growth Properties reported in an SEC filing that Sears has exercised its right to eliminate its leases on 19 stores. Shares of Sears soared over 8% on the news.