Pen and calendar on a wooden table

Strong retail sales data for October

12th November – 18th November 2022 | Another week in the markets

S&P 500 Nasdaq VIX DJIA Russell 1000 NYSE
3,965.34 11,146.06 23.12 33,745.69 2,175.76 15,309.77
-0.69% -1.57% 2.66% -0.01% -0.91% -0.28%
Nifty 50 Gold Silver Brent crude USD-INR EUR-INR
18,307.65 $1,752.00 $20.97 $87.74 81.52 84.16
-0.23% -1.25% -3.79% -8.38% 1.16% 0.85%

Source: MarketWatch

Hello Saturday,

This week retail sales data for October comes in stronger-than-expected, COP27 revives official communication between the US and China, and tech layoffs continue. 

  • Strong retail sales data for October indicates that the Fed may not slow interest rate hikes as Americans continue to shop despite high inflation
  • Macy’s, US’s upscale retail chain store, raises annual profit estimates this week given the high demand for its clothing and makeup products 
  • The 27th edition of the Conference of Parties (COP27) in Egypt facilitates the revival of US-China talks on climate change after months of no official communication on several crucial matters 
  • Tech layoffs continue in the US as Amazon lays off 10,000 employees and companies like Walt Disney, Microsoft, and Salesforce join the list along with several startups 
  • Ticketmaster cancels Friday’s planned ticket sale for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour triggering the US Congress to look into the lack of competition in the ticketing industry and investigate the company on antitrust grounds 

Taking stock | Essentially shopaholic | Touch up | COPing mechanisms | The axe effect continues | Anti-hero trust issues | Invest wisely

Taking stock

After a choppy trading week, all the major indices posted losses for the week. S&P fell 0.69%, Nasdaq lost 1.57%, and the Dow slipped 0.01%. Despite the Fed’s hawkish comments about interest rate hikes, stocks closed higher on Friday. 

Essentially shopaholic

US retail sales surged by 1.3% in October. This is higher than the 1% expected by economists and the biggest monthly gain this year since February. Since such strong retail sales data is a sign of economic strength, the Federal Reserve is likely to continue with aggressive interest rate hikes in an attempt to curb inflation. 

While the retail sales data shows that Americans continue to spend despite record-high inflation, the sales numbers for Walmart and Target may tell you otherwise. Sales for discretionary items such as apparel, home, and electronics have gone down, and retail sales are primarily being boosted by demand for essential items such as food and gas. This will likely impact one of the most important times for retailers – the holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation has estimated that holiday sales this year will increase between 6% and 8%, a growth rate significantly lower than 2021’s 14.1%

Touch up

Given the backdrop of high inflation and cutting back on discretionary expenses by households, it may seem odd that makeup products and fragrances are doing exceptionally well. For instance, Macy’s, one of the US’s biggest upscale retail chain stores, raised its annual profit forecast this Thursday. This is because of the resilient demand for its high-end clothes, beauty products, and perfumes. In the UK, women’s perfume sales rose 137% in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, while men’s perfume sales rose 100%. 

Something called the ‘lipstick effect’ might explain this odd spending behaviour.  Historically it has been seen that in times of economic recession, consumers tend to buy discretionary items like lipsticks and perfumes for an emotional boost. It allows them to indulge in the little luxuries without breaking their budget. Lipstick sales in the US increased by 48% in the first quarter of this year from the same period in 2021. While the lipstick effect has been seen repeatedly since the Great Depression, this time around, it isn’t as strong across all makeup and skincare retailers. While upscale stores like Macy’s are seeing the lipstick effect’s benefits, brands with target consumers from lower-income groups are not.

COPing mechanisms

The 27th Conference of Parties, or COP27, the United Nations climate change conference, held in Egypt, is extended by a day. While it was scheduled from 6th to 18th November, conclusive outcomes for only two of the 30 crucial issues on the agenda have been agreed upon yet. The two agendas that have been agreed upon are Santiago Network and Koronivia. The Santiago Network connects developing countries that are adversely impacted by climate change with providers of technical assistance, knowledge, and resources, as well as coverage of losses and damage funding. Koronivia addresses six interrelated agriculture topics on soils, nutrient use, water, livestock, methods for assessing adaption, and the socio-economic and food security dimensions of climate change.

Another key takeaway from COP27 is that the US and China’s months-long freeze on negotiations has ended. In August, after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Beijing had cut off communication with Washington on a variety of crucial issues, including climate change. Official cooperation between the two countries, which has now been revived, is pivotal in meeting the target of limiting global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

Global land-ocean temperature index over the years:

Graph on global land-ocean temperature index over the years

Source: NASA

The axe effect continues

Layoffs continue in tech across startups and tech giants alike. After Meta laid off 11,000 employees last week, Amazon confirmed layoffs this week with about 10,000 employees impacted. Salesforce, Microsoft, Walt Disney, and others have confirmed layoffs this week. The pandemic outbreak boosted tech growth due to work and study from home. Still, in the post-pandemic era, experts believe that the industry needs to undergo a period of adjustment and correction for more thoughtful and sustainable growth. And layoffs as a cost-cutting measure are a part of that. As for what these layoffs mean for a looming recession – not much, according to analysts. It’s important to note that while information technology companies account for 26% of the S&P 500, they account for less than 0.3% of total employment. Also, tech job openings are well above the pre-pandemic level. 

Anti-hero trust issues

Ticketmaster cancelling Taylor Swift’s concert ticket sales triggered US Congress to investigate the company on antitrust grounds. The singer’s highly anticipated ‘Eras’ 2023 tour, her first in five years, sold over two million tickets on Tuesday in its presale round. Ticketmaster cancelled Friday’s planned ticket sales as it received 3.5 billion ticket requests from fans and bots globally. In 2010, Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged, creating a monopoly in the market. This incident only highlights the lack of competition in the US ticketing industry, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) is being urged to look into it and break up the company. 

Invest wisely

Despite the stock market’s recent rallies, we are still in a bear market. And while many investors are inclined to panic-sell their investments when they see the prices drop, it’s likely not what you should do. As a long-term investor, to systematically build wealth, you should not sell your investments due to short-term volatility. In fact, this is an opportunity to buy stocks with good fundamentals at discounted prices and set your portfolio up for future capital gains. And by downloading the Appreciate App you can invest in a range of value stocks and other high-performing global equity products today!

Warm regards,
Another week
in the markets

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