U.S. Retail Sales Growth Slowest Since 2008 (AP)
Investors in U.S. retail company stocks ended the year with a lump of coal in their stockings as retail sales in the two months before Christmas showed the weakest growth since 2008. That year, the global financial crisis cut into sales, while this year a combination of fear of the fiscal cliff, Superstorm Sandy, the U.S. elections and sadness about the murders in Newtown Conn., hurt sales. The MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report calculated that sales increased by just .7% before Christmas, when analysts had expected growth between 3% and 4%. Investors can only hold their breath as the fiscal cliff approaches.
China Consuming It’s Way Out of Slump (YahooFinance)
In China, consumers countered the poor showing of U.S. buyers in the fourth quarter by leading the retail sector to the country’s strongest sector growth with 61% of companies exceeding expectations. Investors watching China should take note that consumers are also expected to lead the recovery of the world’s second-largest economy during the first half of next year, according to the China Beige Book survey. This survey of 2,000 Chinese executives found that 72% of the country’s retail business owners expect continued higher sales in the next six months. The news certainly is good for Chinese investors.
Volkswagon to Battle GM in China in 2013 (Bloomberg)
Chinese auto buying is expected to jump by 10% next year with the economic recovery gaining strength. Investors interested in siding with the leaders in 2013 should heed the word of industry experts at JSC Automotive Consulting. They expect Germany’s Volkswagon AG (VOW) will go head to head with America’s General Motors (GM) for the sales crown, with Toyota sales falling off significantly. Leading brands for VOW are expected to include Audis, while GM favorites will consist of Cadillac and Opel models. Should VOW emerge as the sales leader next year, it would mark the first time since 2004 that it led sales in China.