What happened

After three straight days of steadily rising stock prices, shares of cruise stock leader Carnival (CCL 0.61%) headed lower again on Friday, losing 3.6% through 10:50 a.m. EST. No Carnival-specific news dragged the stock down today; actually, it's been the opposite. But in the context of some disconcerting macroeconomic news, the stock is taking it on the chin regardless.

So what

This week actually started out on a positive note for Carnival, which on Tuesday reported that its Cyber Monday sales set a new record: 50% higher volume than in the last Cyber Monday preceding the pandemic, in 2019.  

Monday's good news echoed Carnival's declaration earlier this year that the March 28 to April 3 period was the busiest booking week in the company's history. That reinforced management's conviction that there's still plenty of pent-up demand to keep driving the stock higher.

But then, there's also the economy to consider. Friday morning, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that employment grew by 263,000 non-farm jobs in November -- about 30% more than the 200,000 jobs experts had anticipated. The wages earned from those jobs, too, are growing greater than anticipated, up 5.1% year over year, versus analysts' expected 4.6% wage increase.  

Now what

What does this all mean for Carnival? One way of looking at the numbers (the way most investors seem to be looking at them this morning) is that the economy is still running too hot. More jobs and more money earned from those jobs means more spending by consumers, which will keep driving inflation higher, and therefore force the Federal Reserve to keep raising interest rates. Potentially, the Fed might even raise rates another 75 basis points when it meets later this month, rather than the 50 basis points that most investors are now counting on.  

And higher rates could be bad news for Carnival and its $35.3 billion in interest-bearing debt.

But flip the script a bit, and you'll see today's news isn't entirely bad news for Carnival. More jobs (and more money earned at those jobs) also mean more people with money in their pockets -- and able to afford a Carnival cruise, right?

And if the Fed sticks to its convictions and ultimately does decide to raise interest rates only 50 basis points a couple of weeks from now, that might turn out to be the best of both worlds for Carnival: modest interest rates on its debt and more revenue to pay the interest.

Investors in Carnival stock should cross their fingers and hope this is the way things play out.