The market seems surprised that retail sales ex-autos fell 0.4%. Wow, these folks bidding down stock futures this morning need to get out more among the masses and get a clue about what's going on out there. Either that, or they need to stop listening to the consensus forecasts of the economists crowd who are scrambling to adjust their rosy expectations. Remember the consensus still sees the economy growing at over 2% next year. I won't bore you the regular reader with the factors that would crimp the consumer since they've been well chronicled here. For someone who may have stumbled in here this morning -- think shutdown housing ATM, think declining spending confidence, think diminishing wealth effect, etc.
Like a Northern Rock?
More like crushed stone this morning. In what sounds like a scene from the Mary Poppins movie where the kid accidentally causes a run on his father's bank, there was a near run on British bank Northern Rock: Northern Rock customers queue for cash as crisis hits high street.
Who were the nitwits who bought shares of cash burning Countrywide (CFC) yesterday? The stock is down 3% on negative comments from Wachovia which reminded that CFC will lose money in its mortgage banking segment for the 3rd quarter. Wachovia did maintain a Market Perform.
-Merrill Lynch lowered Intel (INTC) to Neutral from Buy citing valuation.
-Merrill lowered American Express (AXP) to Neutral from Buy citing sagging consumer spending.
-Punk lowered Key Corp (KEY) to a Sell today saying Key's vulnerability is in local banking where loan losses and revenue growth problems could be developing.
-RBC raised its price target on Research in Motion (RIMM) to $110 from $83.