November auto sales accelerated 9% from a year ago as Americans keep upgrading their cassette-playing 11-year-old cars (on average) with USB-lovin' new ones. The number of cars sold last month was boosted by crazy Black Friday deals, and the nation's car-buying level is almost back up to pre-'08 crisis levels. That's the strongest sales rate in six years.
The scary part for Ford (NYSE: F ) and General Motors was that car prices were $200 lower on average from last year. Ford fell 3% Tuesday, citing brutal competition from Japanese automakers as a reason to slow North American production of its tiny Focus sedan and even some Fusions. Ol' Blue in Detroit has too much inventory and needs to reduce the rate at which its workers are putting them on the road (or, obviously, call in Tommy Callahan for a new sales pitch).
Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) shareholders were electrified for other reasons. The Germans ended an investigation into one of Tesla's burning cars that has plagued the stock recently. Germany decided the combustion wasn't Tesla's fault and it won't be charged with any wrongdoing. People don't like burning cars (explosions are uncomfortable), so the news helped Tesla stock pop 16% Tuesday.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) is buying Topsy Labs, a company that processes Twitter data, for $200 million. The purchase price is pennies to the enormous Apple, and stock analysts were quick to reward the company for making the tech-savvy move. Shares rose 2.7% Tuesday as one investment bank, UBS, upgraded its stock recommendation on Apple to "buy."
A motley crew of Twitter scientists is what Topsy brings to the table. Topsy is one of the few companies that has access to the most raw data on Twitter's users and their posting habits. (Creepy.) The analysts process bajillions of data bytes in order to interpret the reactions of Twitter users to news stories, products, and other trending topics.
How will Apple use Topsy? Take your best guess. Because nobody knows. But if another nipple-gate is bestowed upon viewers at the Super Bowl halftime show show this year, Apple's got a sizable department crunching the world's immediate Twitter reaction in real time.
3. Krispy Kreme's earnings look good, but taste bad
- The Federal Reserve's "Beige Book" tells us what the central bank thinks of the U.S. economy.
- The ADP Employment Report previews the Labor Department's Non-Farm Jobs Report on Friday.
- New Home Sales.