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Sales drop 1.9% from November, far more than forecast Accelerating inflation may damp consumer spending this year By Jill Ward, Bloomberg U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told a Davos gathering on Friday that an inflation pickup will put a damper on consumers this year. The first signs may already be appearing. Less than an hour before Hammond spoke, data showed retail sales fell at the fastest pace in almost five years in December, recording a 1.9 percent drop that far exceeded even the most pessimistic forecasts in a Bloomberg survey. Possible explanations include price increases and consumers scaling back purchases after taking advantage of Black Friday discounts the previous month. Mild weather also probably affected clothing sales -- down 3.7 percent on the month -- though the weakness in the sector was broad-based, with turnover at food, household goods and department stores all falling. The decline could be… more


Chart: IBM Under Heavy Pressure

/ January 20, 2017 8:41 AM

After an initial post-earnings bounce, IBM is headed for a gap-lower open. By Gary Morrow, TheStreet.com IBM (IBM) initially surged following its better-than-expected earnings report before losing momentum early in the overnight session. Heading into Friday's opening bell, the stock is headed for a very damaging gap-lower open and is leaving behind a ominous top near $170. If the stock... more


T. Rowe Price’s Shawn Driscoll says an oversupply combined with greater efficiency means crude prices are headed lower By Howard Gold, MarketWatch The dark days of February 2016, when oil and stock prices were in a race to the bottom, are a distant memory. The lows were hit on Feb. 11, when the S&P 500 Index closed a bit above... more


Trump makes it clear that administration wants a weaker buck His influence over the currency is limited, but he has options By Andrea Wong, Bloomberg Donald Trump may have a point: the dollar is indeed strong. Judging from the Federal Reserve’s own trade-weighted dollar index, the U.S. currency is now around 7 percent above its four-decade average. A strong dollar... more


Output in Permian Basin poised to lead jump By Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch The oil market got a stark reminder Tuesday that rising oil production in the U.S. could upend efforts by major producers to bring global supply and demand for crude back in to balance. Just ahead of the settlement for oil futures prices  on the New York Mercantile... more


By Justina Lee, Bloomberg As China’s yuan swings back into the global spotlight, it might seem like an odd time for authorities in Beijing to loosen their grip on the tightly-managed currency. Yet for a growing number of analysts and investors, the prospect of a freely floating yuan — a Chinese exchange rate wholly determined by market forces — is... more


Despite most of the media's (and most of the pundits') unwillingness to acknowledge it, the biggest drag on crude oil prices hasn't been too much supply. It's been the incessantly rising value of the U.S. dollar. Up 27% since the middle of 2014 — spooky by ForEx standards — and reaching new multi-year highs in late December, the U.S. Dollar... more