MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It was a short week on Wall Street, due to the holiday. But on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, all the major stock indexes hit record new highs. Traders took Thanksgiving Day off, and put in half a trading day Friday. In that shortened session, the market dropped slightly, but closed out the strongest month since June: The Standard & Poor’s 500 picked up 3.4 percent in November alone, the Dow Jones Industrials plus 3.7, and the Nasdaq rose 4.5 percent. On the year so far, the S&P 500 and the Dow are up more than 20 percent, and the Nasdaq up 30.
REICHARD: Turns out the economy grew more in the third quarter than the government initially said that it did. Gross Domestic Product, GDP, grew at a 2.1-percent annual pace, not 1.9 as first reported. Commerce Department economists had understated business investment in the July-to-September quarter.
But American manufacturing is still sluggish: the new trade agreement with the two top trading partners Mexico and Canada is stuck unratified in the U.S. Congress, and trade tensions between the United States and China remain unresolved.
EICHER: Personal consumption expenditures account for about 70 percent of overall economic growth, and there’s good news on that front. In the first month of the fourth quarter, consumers spent at the fastest pace since July. October spending rebounded three-tenths of a percent over September.
And retailers are expecting a much better holiday season than last year. The National Retail Federation predicts year-on-year growth between 3.8 and 4.2 percent. Amazon is hiring twice as many seasonal workers as it did last year.
Now, we’ve heard a lot about the problem of the truncated shopping season because Thanksgiving came so late. But retailers say more than half of consumers got started Christmas shopping before then and that a quarter of their purchases are already made.
Today, of course, is Cyber Monday. Adobe Analytics predicts it’ll be a record-breaker. Thanksgiving sales were 14 1/2 percent better than they were last year, with single-day sales of $4.2 billion, and Black Friday sales topped $7 billion.
And that is today’s Monday Moneybeat.