Sales at U.S. retailers dropped more than forecast in August, indicating a pause in recent consumer-spending strength that has carried the economy.
Purchases declined 0.3 percent from July, the first drop in five months, after a revised 0.1 percent advance in the previous month, Commerce Department figures showed Thursday in Washington. The median projection of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.1 percent decline. Excluding cars, sales unexpectedly fell 0.1 percent.
An easing in vehicle buying matched a lackluster performance elsewhere, with sales falling in seven of 12 retail categories outside autos. While low borrowing costs, cheap gasoline prices and steady job gains should keep a floor under demand, wage growth remains slow and sustained weakness in consumer spending could limit any second-half economic rebound.
“This is not a good report, for the most part,” said Chris Christopher, director of consumer economics at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. “The consumer’s doing relatively well — even with these numbers, it’s one of the strongest parts of the economy. There’s modest inflation, real disposable income gains are relatively robust, and they feel pretty confident.”
The report represents one of the last major data releases before Federal Reserve policy makers meet next week to debate raising interest rates. While officials are split on the urgency to increase borrowing costs, most investors and economists expect the central bank to hold off this month.
Other data releases on Thursday showed the number of applications for unemployment benefits barely rose last week, remaining close to a four-decade low. Wholesale prices in the U.S. were little changed in August.
Estimates of retail sales in the Bloomberg survey ranged from a decline of 0.8 percent to a 0.2 percent gain. July’s figure was revised from an initially reported reading of no change.
Core sales, the figures that are used to calculate gross domestic product and which exclude such categories as autos, gasoline stations and building materials, declined 0.1 percent last month. July’s reading was revised to a 0.1 percent decrease after an initially reported reading of no change.
Purchases at auto dealers dropped 0.9 percent and those at service stations fell 0.8 percent as fuel costs were slightly lower on average in August.
The auto figures are in line with industry data showing a slowdown. Sales of cars and light trucks eased to a 16.91 million annualized rate in August after 17.77 million in July that was the strongest in eight months, according to Ward’s Automotive Group figures.
Outside of autos, purchases fell 1.4 percent at building materials stores and dropped by the same percentage at sellers of sporting goods, books and music. Food and beverage store spending was up 0.3 percent and clothing gained 0.7 percent.
The decline in retail sales excluding autos follows a 0.4 percent decrease in July that was revised lower, according to Thursday’s report. They were projected to increase 0.2 percent, according to the Bloomberg survey median.
Gold Hit 26.8% ROI YTD, the Highest Increase in Value Among Top Assets
Gold Delivers 26.8% Return on Investment Year-t-Date
As the world’s earliest form of currency, gold has long been considered a reliable store of value. Unlike banknotes, stock, or other assets, the precious metal managed to preserve the investors’ wealth throughout the years, especially in times of turmoil in the financial markets.
According to data presented by AksjeBloggen, gold hit a 26.8% YTD return on investment, the highest increase in value among top assets.
Gold Return Rate 8.5% Higher than in 2019
Investors tend to focus on gold in times of market volatility, considering it to be a ‘safe haven’ in crises like the coronavirus. In 2019, the value of gold increased by 18.3%, revealed the Blackrock data. The precious metal continued the impressive performance in 2020 with a 26.8% YTD return, 8.5% more than in 2019.
Statistics show that last year, the S&P 500 index increased in value by 31% but was outperformed by Nasdaq, which grew by 35.2%. The MSCI Europe index rose by 26.1% in 2019. China A-shares followed with a 22.3% ROI.
However, the COVID-19 crisis had a massive impact on popular assets, causing a sharp fall in their values during the first half of 2020. The Blackrock data revealed the Nasdaq YTD return hit 23.9%, 11.3% below the 2019 performance. China A stocks reached 10% ROI YTD, much under the 22.3% return in 2019.
Statistics show the S&P 500 index had an 8.4% value increase in the nine months of 2020, almost four times less than in 2019. MSCI Emerging Market Index reached a 4.9% value increase in the same period, compared to 13% in 2019.
The Blackrock data show that crude oil, FTSE 100, and MSCI Europe index witnessed the most significant drop in the nine months of 2020, with their values falling by 34.6%, 22.4%, and 11.5%, respectively.
Global Demand for Investment Gold Surged by 100% YoY
Although many investors value gold as an important portfolio asset, the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in global demand for the precious metal.
The World Gold Council data showed the global demand for investment gold increased significantly since the beginning of the year.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, it amounted to 279.2 metric tons. By the end of March, this figure jumped by more than 93% to 539.6 metric tons. The increasing trend continued in the second quarter of the year, with global demand for investment gold hitting 582.9 metric tons, an almost 100% jump year-over-year.
Statistics indicate the global demand for gold for investment purposes hit a record-breaking 1,152 metric tons in the first half of 2020, the highest figure so far.
Oil Prices News: Oil Gains Following Drops in US Crude Inventories
Oil Prices Gain Following Drops in US Crude Inventories and OPEC High Compliance Level
Global oil prices extended their 2 percent gains on Thursday after data showed U.S crude oil inventories declined last week.
The price of Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is measured, gained 0.2 percent or 7 cents to $43.39 a barrel as at 12:10 pm Nigerian time. While the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude appreciated by 8 cent or 0.2 percent to $41.12 barrels.
Oil prices extended their three days gain after the American Petroleum Institute said the U.S crude inventories declined by 5.4 million barrels in the week ended October 9.
The report released after the market closed on Wednesday revealed that distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, declined by 3.9 million barrels. Those stated drawdowns almost double analysts’ projections for the week.
“Much of the fall is due to the effects of Hurricane Delta shuttering U.S. production in the Gulf of Mexico, and as such, will be a transitory effect,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.
“Therefore, I am not getting too excited that a turn of direction is upon markets, although both contracts are approaching important technical resistance regions.”
Also, the report that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, referred to as OPEC+ attained 102 percent compliance level with their oil production cuts agreements bolstered global oil outlook. Suggesting that demands for the commodity are likely not growing and could drag down prices in few weeks, especially when one factor in the reopening of Libya’s Sharara oil field, workers returning to operation in Norway and the Gulf of Mexico.
Oil Prices Gain on Tuesday Despite Expected Surge in Global Oil Supplies
Oil Prices Rise Despite Expected Surge in Global Oil Supplies
Oil prices gained on Tuesday despite Libya opening Sharara oil field for production, labour in Norway reaching an agreement with oil firms to return back to work and oil workers in the U.S returning to the Gulf of Mexico region after the Hurrican Delta.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil price is measured, gained 1.77 percent to $42.46 per barrel as at 11:15 am Nigerian time on Tuesday.
While the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil gained 2 percent to close at $40.22 per barrel.
The improvement in prices was after oil prices plunged as much as 3 percent on Monday following a resolution reached by Libyan rebels and government to commence oil production at the nation’s largest oil field, Sharara Oil Field.
This coupled with labour agreement with oil firms in Norway was expected to boost global oil supplies and eventually weighed on prices and disrupt OPEC+ production cuts strategy.
However, prices surged after Nancy Pelosi said she would commence talks on $1.8 trillion stimulus package following President Trump’s return to the White House after he was rushed to hospital following a positive COVID-19 test.
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