Stocks finished off the last day of November lower in a choppy day of trading, although they managed to salvage small gains for the month.
Gold, however, fell 6.7%, and had its worst monthly loss since 2013.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,723.67, -74.82, (-0.42%)
- S&P 500: 2,081.31, -8.80, (-0.42%)
- Nasdaq: 5,106.04, -21.48, (-0.42%)
And now, the top stories on Monday:
- China’s yuan is now officially a global reserve currency. The International Monetary Fund made it official today, placing it alongside the dollar, yen, euro, and pound in the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket. This could benefit the yuan, as big money managers move their holdings to the currency. It would also boost the local economy’s confidence, in a year that has been marred by two stock market crashes and a struggling economy.
- Morgan Stanley may trim a quarter of its fixed-income trading staff within the next two weeks, according to Bloomberg. The investment bank’s bond-trading revenues fell 42% year-on-year in the third quarter, and CEO James Gorman described it as the worst three months for fixed income, currencies and commodities since he took the helm in 2010.
- Retail stocks slid, after early surveys showed that Black Friday shopping activity was not spectacular. Urban Outfitters (-4%), Under Armour (-3.7%), and Macy’s (-2%) were among the biggest losers. Early data from analytics firm RetailNext showed that overall sales fell 1.5% on Black Friday, while average shopper spending dropped 1.4%. ShopperTrak estimated a decrease from last year to a total of $12.1 billion.
- But Cyber Monday looked much better. Adobe Digital Index said sales were up 14% year-on-year, at $490 million between midnight and 10 a.m. today, according to Reuters. The websites of Target, PayPal, Walmart, and Victoria Secret experienced outages or slow checkout times at various times today. The National Retail Federation had noted that most Black Friday shopping was online, and so the surge in Cyber Monday sales may lend itself as an anecdote of that behavioural change.
- The Midwest gave us a bright red light for the economy. The Chicago purchasing manager’s index plunged into contractionary territory in November. MNI’s indicator of manufacturing and business activity fell to 48.7 from 56.2 prior, missing the forecast for 54. A drop in new orders, to the lowest level since March, pushed the headline down. And, as a leading indicator, the decline in orders does not bode well for future employment. Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna noted to clients before the report a strong correlation (a 0.86 coefficient) between the Chicago PMI and the national ISM PMI. “Barring a significant bounce back in December, the decline in November suggests that activity during the final quarter of the year may well decelerate,” MNI said.
- Things were better down in Texas, where the Dallas Fed manufacturing index was reported as -4.9 for this month (-10 expected, -12.7 prior). Business executives said factory activity improved for a second straight month, while the employment index surged double-digits to 11.6, the highest since 15 months.
- In other economic data, pending home sales rose 0.2%, missing the forecast for 1%. As a forward-looking indicator, pending home sales point to another small drop in existing home sales next month, according to Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Ian Shepherdson.