Target and Macy's Get No Black Friday Honeymoon

What's the best Cyber Monday deal of all time? Obviously, MarketSnacks -- we're free, we make you smarter, and we like to celebrate two years running with you (unlike anything Wal-Mart can offer). The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  )  fell 78 points Monday on bad Black Friday retail data and fresh stimulus worries.

1. Black Friday weekend's disappointing retail sales
The numbers are in. The National Retail Federation reported that 141 million shoppers raced their shopping carts around America's big-box stores like the Daytona 500 (we hope you got your Xbox One or your kid will disown you this Xmas morning). The total number of shoppers Thursday through Sunday grew by 2 million from last year, but they spent less on average and total sales shrank by 3% to $57 billion. It's the first decline since 2009.

Retailers were desperate to rev things up this Black Friday, so they skipped it altogether and went straight to Thursday. Macy's (NYSE: M  )  opened on the holiday for the first time to try to milk more spending out of cost-conscious consumers, since there are fewer shopping days post-Thanksgiving than normal this year. The lackluster results dropped Macy's stock 1.5% Monday, and Target (NYSE: TGT  )  was down nearly 2%.

Skip the Wal-Mart "Fight Clubs" in suburbia and do it online. Customer spending online this Black Friday weekend climbed to 42% of total sales, up from 40% last year and 26% in 2006. Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN  )  is up 3% since Wednesday on the e-friendly trend.   
 
2. U.S. manufacturing hits 2.5-year high; investors unhappy about it
According to the Institute of Supply Management, manufacturing activity in the U.S. unexpectedly jumped from an already strong 56.4 to 57.3 on the research firm's fancy point index -- that's the sixth straight gain and the highest level of manufacturing growth in two and a half years. What a nice present for the sixth night of Hanukkah. 
 
What's leading the charge? American manufacturing sounds like something you might hear from your lame economics prof recalling his glory days, but the improving housing market is giving factories a boost. New home sales have jumped by more than 15% from last year's pace, and those abodes need things you can show off -- each new house means four new major appliances (and a new car in the garage). Your admirable DIY Thanksgiving build-a-hockey-rink-in-the-backyard didn't hurt either.
 
So why were investors unhappy? Positive manufacturing news is good for the economy, but not good for stimulus. The Federal Reserve has vowed to use stimulus policies to keep interest rates low to encourage borrowing and boost the economic recovery -- but any sign of improvement means the Fed could end stimulus earlier. Wall Street has loved the Red Bull-like servings of Fed stimulus and tends to get worried on even the slightest sign that it may be cut.

Today: 
  • Motor vehicle sales rev up with monthly vehicle sales.
  • The "Red Book" releases its weekly retail sales report.
 
Originally published on MarketSnacks.com

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