Thanksgiving weekend sales slip. Consumers spent an estimated $57.4B over the Thanksgiving weekend, down 2.7% from last year, the National Retail Federation has estimated. However, the number of shoppers increased to 141M people from 139M. The fall in spending, which came after retailers warned of a difficult holiday season, was due to the aggressive bargains on offer. Still, online sales climbed 17.3% on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, ComScore estimates. With today being Cyber Monday, the Internet shopping spree is set to continue.
Chinese manufacturing PMI tops forecasts. China's official manufacturing PMI, which focuses on larger state-owned enterprises, held steady at an 18-month high of 51.4 in November and topped consensus of 51.1. The HSBC print, which concentrates on smaller, private firms, slipped to 50.8 last month from 50.9 in October. "The momentum we see is state-led and policy-led, and from that perspective, it is a mixed performance," said Conference Board economist Andrew Polk. He was commenting after the official index came out but before the HSBC data was released, although the latter seems to have confirmed the trend.
Growth in eurozone factory activity accelerates slightly. Eurozone manufacturing PMI edged up to 51.6 in November from 51.3 in October, with Germany, Italy, Holland, Austria and Ireland performing well but with France remaining a concern. "The data suggest that output is rising at a quarterly rate of only around 0.6% in the fourth quarter so far," says Markit. After starting the day higher, the euro was -0.3% at $1.3548 at the time of writing.
Top Stock News
Amazon planning to deliver products using drones. An example of truth being stranger than fiction? During a 60 Minutes interview, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos said the company is experimenting with fulfilling small orders using autonomous drone aircraft. Called Prime Air, Amazon expects the service to go live in 4-5 years. If Amazon pulls it off on a large scale, it would give the company's same-day delivery efforts a boost as it contends with rivals such as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY).
ThyssenKrupp expects antitrust investigation into sale of mill. ThyssenKrupp (OTC:TYEKY) CEO Heinrich Hiesinger expects U.S. antitrust authorities to scrutinize his company's $1.55B sale of its troubled steel mill in Alabama to ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal (OTCPK:NSSMY). The main reason is ArcelorMittal's dominance of the U.S. auto steel market, although the latter doesn't expect to encounter problems getting the deal approved. Its shares were +2.3% premarket.
Takeda sets path for first foreign CEO in 232-year history. Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical (OTCPK:TKPHF) has named 20-year GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) veteran Christophe Weber as the candidate to become its next CEO. Assuming Takeda's shareholders approve the appointment of Weber, the French national is set to become the company's first non-Japanese leader in its 232-year history. Weber will become Takeda's COO by April, its president in June, and its CEO in 2015.
Top Economic & Other News
Government says Obamacare site improved, but problems continue. The White House said yesterday that it has achieved its target of improving the HealthCare.gov Web site so that it works "smoothly for the vast majority of users." However, the back-end systems continue to be a problem, with one result being that while some consumers believe they've bought coverage from insurers, the latter don't have any records of the transactions.
OPEC divided over who should cut output. With U.S. and Iraqi oil output rising, and Iran possibly being allowed to export more oil next year due to a potential easing of sanctions, OPEC is divided about which member countries should trim production to offset the increase in crude supply. The rift has emerged ahead of a meeting of the cartel in Vienna on Wednesday, when the group isn't expected to decide to lower output even though it projects that demand for its oil will slip in 2014.
Game of chicken playing out in islands dispute. Joe Biden is heading to Asia this week, when he'll try to calm tensions in the islands dispute in the East China Sea between Japan and China. Biden will try to maintain the U.S.'s partial neutrality on the issue itself but reaffirm the country's military backing for Japan. All the sides in the dispute have been flying military planes in the area, as has South Korea, while China has also been asserting its rights over thousands of shipwrecks in the region.
East Africa bloc signs deal to form single currency. The problems of the euro notwithstanding, the leaders of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have signed a protocol to establish a monetary union within 10 years. The countries, which make up the East African Community ((NASDAQ:EAC)), have already established a common market and a single customs union. With EAC members holding oil and gas reserves, one hope is that the union will help attract the foreign investment needed to develop those resources.
Alpha-Rich Stock Movers and Great Calls
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In Asia, Japan flat at 15655. Hong Kong +0.7% to 24039. China -0.6% to 2207. India +0.5% to 20898.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.6%. Paris -0.4%. Frankfurt flat.
Futures at 6:20: Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude -0.1% to $92.65. Gold -1.1% to $1236.20.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +4 bps to 2.79%.
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