Why Industrial Production and Herbalife Both Had Great Days

Christmas come early? After four straight down days, stocks popped Monday like Santa was handing out these $10,000 24K gold Xboxes all along Wall Street. Impressive econ data powered the Dow (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) up 129 points Monday -- now all eyes are on the big two-day Federal Reserve policy-setting meeting that begins Tuesday.

1. Industrial Production surges
The November Industrial Production report should have been in that most recent Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Its numbers just looked that good. After rising just 0.1% in October, manufacturing activity popped 1.1% last month -- that beat economists' expectations of only 0.6% growth and represents the largest industrial production monthly increase in a year.

What led the way? Two big changes. First, mining activity rebounded strong after the reopening of oil and gas rigs that were temporarily closed because of Tropical Storm Karen in the Gulf of Mexico (we thought those oil rig guys were tough). Second, motor vehicle sales jumped 3.4% after a sluggish October.

The takeaway is that good econ data like this means the economic recovery is doing everything the New York Giants aren't -- picking things up in the home stretch. For Wall Street, the big question is how continued positive econ reports like this one will make the Fed slow down its economy-boosting stimulus measures ahead of time. All the more reason to get pumped for Tuesday's Fed meeting.

2. Herbalife jumps on dramatic reaudit
Good news for people who like creepy energy supplements. Shares of nutrition/skincare/witchcraft manufacturer Herbalife (NYSE: HLF  ) jumped 9.4% Monday on news its financial statements had finished being reaudited and there were no substantial changes to the numbers.

Who cares so much about accounting? Big hedge fund manager Bill Ackman. For more than a year, he has been accusing Herbalife of being a criminal ponzi scheme, because the company's sales model requires customers to buy its products and then sell them to other customers -- making its customers its salespeople (that mess with your brain?). Since other legendary investors Carl Icahn and George Soros own big positions in Herbalife stock, things got dramatic.

The takeaway is that earlier this year, another accounting firm was supposed to check out 3 years of Herbalife's financial statements, but had to withdraw because it was illegally insider trading with the information. Ackman warned that the problem would prevent the reaudit from finishing before the end of the year -- but it looks like Herbalife downed some of its own vitamins and completed the examination with a passing grade. Take that, Ack.

Today: 

  • The two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting begins

  • Monthly retail sales

  • NAHB Housing Market Index

MarketSnacks Fact of the Day:  More than 40% of Millennials stalk their dates on Facebook before meeting up.

As originally published on MarketSnacks.com.



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