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Black Friday U.S. Shoppers Brave Cold, Long Lines in Hunt For Deals

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  • Black Friday U.S. Shoppers Brave Cold, Long Lines in Hunt For Deals

U.S. shoppers formed long lines at store checkout counters on Black Friday to snap up deep discounts on clothing and electronics, offering evidence that a healthy economy and rising wages are translating into stronger consumer spending at the start of retailers’ make-or-break holiday season.

“I am spending more, the mood generally is more upbeat,” said Sharon Neidert, 57, visiting New York City from Ohio. “My daughter moved out this year so I have more disposable income,” said Neidert, a manager at a software company.

One of the busiest shopping days of the year was off to a strong start, said Neil Saunders at GlobalData Retail.

“More people have already shopped than at this point last year, and their average spend is higher,” said Saunders. The average spend of those who already shopped on Black Friday was $407.20, up 2.1 percent over last year, he said. Early shoppers tend to buy bigger ticket items, such as electronics or furniture.

Retail stocks were mixed. Target Corp (TGT.N) fell 2 percent and Kohls Corp (KSS.N) fell 3 percent, shares of Macy’s Inc (M.N) lost 1 percent, while L Brands (LB.N) rose 3 percent. Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) were flat; Walmart Inc (WMT.N) gained slightly.

The S&P 500 retailing index .SPXRT dipped 0.2 percent, bucking a 0.4-percent drop for the broader stock market.

The National Retail Federation forecast U.S. holiday retail sales in November and December will increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017 for a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion. That compares with an average annual increase of 3.9 percent over the past five years.

About 38 percent of American consumers plan to shop on Black Friday this year, and six in 10 of those shoppers anticipate making at least half of their holiday purchases on that day, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed last week.

DEAL FRENZY

Shoppers picked up big-ticket items such as TVs, Apple Inc (AAPL.O) iPads and Watches at Target, while phones, toys, gaming consoles and cookware were top sellers at Walmart Inc (WMT.N).

Some of the deals:

– An H&M store (HMb.ST) in Manhattan offered 30 percent off everything in-store and online.

– Macy’s in Herald Square, Manhattan, sold a Coach designer wallet, originally $225, for $53.

– At a Chicago-area Pandora, which makes popular charm bracelets that can cost up to $1,000, jewelry was 35 percent off before 10 a.m. and 25 percent off for the remainder of the day.

– A sign in the window of a Gap Factory Store in Jackson Heights, Queens, promoted “60 Percent Off Everything.”

– Walmart was selling a Roomba WiFi robot vacuum online or for in-store pickup for $100 off at $194.

– Buy one, get one free pajamas at Victoria’s Secret (LB.N).

Charlotte Jackson, from London, come to New York with her mother for Black Friday shopping.

“Black Friday isn’t as big of a deal back home,” Jackson, a 27-year-old tax adviser, said while shopping for lingerie and pajamas at Victoria’s Secret.

MORE TOYS AT TARGET, JC PENNEY

Many retailers, reacting to the bankruptcy of the Toys ‘R’ Us chain, are catering to parents.

Target said in October it planned to dedicate nearly a quarter of a million square feet of new space to its toy business across 500 of its stores. The discount chain’s customers will also be able to shop for more than 2,500 new and exclusive toys, Mark Tritton, Target’s chief merchandising officer said.

Department store JC Penney Co Inc (JCP.N), known for its mid-priced apparel, has also made a push into toys.

Sabrina Wengert, a 38-year-old homemaker, picked up a Discovery Art set and a Ned’s Head guessing game for her 9-year-old daughter.

“The toy section at JC Penney looks good and they have stocked more toys at Target too, but Toys ‘R’ Us going out of business is a big loss,” she said. “We are shopping for toys on Amazon this year as well.”

Shortly before 6 a.m. on Friday, shoppers were banging on the door at a Bath & Body Works in the Waterfront Mall in Pittsburgh, lining up for discounted candles, soaps and lotion, while long lines formed at checkout counters in a Dick’s Sporting Goods store in the mall.

There was little evidence of the delirious shopper frenzy of Black Fridays from past years, in other parts of the country, especially the Northeast, where crowds were thin due to record-setting cold weather.

An Athleta clothing store in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, was offering hot chocolate with marshmallows to women in line for the dressing room.

‘SO FAR, SO GOOD’

Shoppers spent $1.75 billion online by 5 p.m. ET on Thanksgiving Day itself, with smartphone sales lifting overall online spending by 28.6 percent from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers.

“So far, so good,” said Shawn Kravetz, president of Esplanade Capital. “Online (and) email solicitations (are) off the charts – have to get up an hour early just to digest and delete them.”

Consumers in San Francisco led the rest of the country with over 2.3 million online transactions, followed by over 954,000 in New York City, according to payments processor First Data Corp (FDC.N), which collects data from about 1 million U.S. merchants.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Gold

Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin

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Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges

Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.

The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.

The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.

We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.

Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.

Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.

In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.

 

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Extend Gains to $64.32 Ahead of OPEC+ Meeting

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Oil Prices Rise to $64.32 Amid Expected Output Extension

Oil prices extended gains during the early hours of Thursday trading session amid the possibility that OPEC+ producers might not increase output at a key meeting scheduled for later in the day and the drop in U.S refining.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria oil is priced, gained 0.4 percent or 27 cents to $64.32 per barrel as at 7:32 am Nigerian time on Thursday. While the U.S West Texas Intermediate gained 19 cents or 0.3 percent to $61.47 a barrel.

“Prices hinge on Russia’s and Saudi Arabia’s preference to add more crude oil production,” said Stephen Innes, global market strategist at Axi. “Perhaps more interesting is the lack of U.S. shale response to the higher crude oil prices, which is favourable for higher prices.”

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, together known as OPEC+, are looking to extend production cuts into April against expected output increase due to the fragile state of the global oil market.

Oil traders and businesses had been expecting the oil cartel to ease production by around 500,000 barrels per day since January 2021 but because of the coronavirus risk and rising global uncertainties, OPEC+ was forced to role-over production cuts until March. Experts now expect that this could be extended to April given the global situation.

“OPEC+ is currently meeting to discuss its current supply agreement. This raised the spectre of a rollover in supply cuts, which also buoyed the market,” ANZ said in a report.

Meanwhile, U.S crude oil inventories rose by more than a record 21 million barrels last week as refining plunged to a record-low amid Texas weather that knocked out power from homes.

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Crude Oil

Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

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Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

Oil retreated from an earlier rally with investment banks and traders predicting the market can go significantly higher in the months to come.

Futures in New York pared much of an earlier increase to $63 a barrel as the dollar climbed and equities slipped. Bank of America said prices could reach $70 at some point this year, while Socar Trading SA sees global benchmark Brent hitting $80 a barrel before the end of the year as the glut of inventories built up during the Covid-19 pandemic is drained by the summer.

The loss of oil output after the big freeze in the U.S. should help the market firm as much of the world emerges from lockdowns, according to Trafigura Group. Inventory data due later Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute and more from the Energy Department on Wednesday will shed more light on how the Texas freeze disrupted U.S. oil supply last week.

Oil has surged this year after Saudi Arabia pledged to unilaterally cut 1 million barrels a day in February and March, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicting the rally will accelerate as demand outpaces global supply. Russia and Riyadh, however, will next week once again head into an OPEC+ meeting with differing opinions about adding more crude to the market.

“The freeze in the U.S. has proved supportive as production was cut,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro. “We still expect that Russia will push for a significant rise in production,” which could soon weigh on prices, he said.

PRICES

  • West Texas Intermediate for April fell 27 cents to $61.43 a barrel at 9:20 a.m. New York time
  • Brent for April settlement fell 8 cents to $65.16

Brent’s prompt timespread firmed in a bullish backwardation structure to the widest in more than a year. The gap rose above $1 a barrel on Tuesday before easing to 87 cents. That compares with 25 cents at the start of the month.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and oil trader Vitol Group shot down talk of a new oil supercycle, though they said a lack of supply response will keep prices for crude prices firm in the short term.

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