REUTERS/Gary HershornPerformers in the 87th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade wait for a subway to take them to the start of the parade in New York November 28, 2013.
Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
- Markets in Asia and the Pacific closed mostly lower. Japan’s Nikkei was off 0.41%. Korea’s Kospi was down 0.04%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng bucked the trend, finishing 0.39% higher. European markets were up, led by London’s FTSE at 0.30%. U.S. futures were pointing higher.
- Europe continued to show signs of deflation, as November Italian consumer prices data fell 0.4% month-on-month, compared with a 0.2% decline in October. The year-over-year improvement of 0.6% fell short of the 0.8% year-over-year increase in October. Eurozone wide inflation of 0.9% beat expectations but remains well below the ECB’s 2% target.
- Eurozone unemployment continued to linger at alarming levels, with the October rate clocking in at 12.1% versus 12.2% expected (and 12.2% for September). Youth unemployment stands at 24.4%, and in Spain stands at 57.4%.
- Greek retail sales remain in free-fall as the September figure fell 6.4% and volume declined 5.4% month-over-month. Those figures are slightly better than August’s drop-offs of 8.9% and 7.7%, respectively, but there clearly remains a long way to go.
- Standard & Poor’s has downgraded Netherlands’s credit rating to AA+ from AAA, citing growth concerns. “We do not anticipate that real economic output will surpass 2008 levels before 2017, and believe that the strong contribution of net exports to growth has not been enough to offset a weak domestic economy,” the agency said. However it lifted its outlook for Spain to stable from negative. “What we’re seeing in Spain is two developments which we consider both stabilizing,” S&P’s Moritz Kraemer told CNBC. “One is that the Spanish economy has made some notable progress in the re-balancing of its external deficits. We actually forecast for this year of a current account surplus which would be the first one since 1986.” And it raised Cyprus’ rating to ‘B-/B’ from ‘CCC plus/C,’ saying the chance of imminent default on the island nation had receded.
- The Bank of England sought to prick a possible housing bubble in Britain on, making a surprise announcement that it would halt a program launched last year to boost mortgage lending, Reuters said. “The central bank said the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) would cease to offer banks incentives for mortgage lending and instead be refocused on helping small firms to borrow. The news caused shares in house-building firms to tumble,” the wire reported.
- Wagers that the value of the yen will continue to decline against the dollar are close to levels not seen since 2007, the Wall Street Journal’s Mia Lamar reports, as investors believe the imminent end to QE will boost the dollar, putting competitive pressure on Japanese exports. “The Bank of Japan has done a lot of easing, but they will have to do a lot more easing,” Paul Lambert, head of currencies at Insight Investment in London, told Lamar. “To maintain the momentum in growth is going to require further weakening of the yen and further stimulus.” The yen is already at its lowest level in six months against the dollar and is off 4% this month.
- At the same time, Japanese housing starts climbed for the 14th straight month, jumping 7.1% year-over-year in October. That crushed expectations of 4.3%, though was off 0.7% from September. “Consumers are buying new homes now to take advantage of low mortgage interest rates, which will likely rise if the government keeps managing to increase inflation,” the FT says. “Investors are also keen to make big purchases now because a hike in the national consumption tax takes effect in April.”
- Black Friday-related injuries are so far minimal. A police officer shot an alleged shoplifter outside a Kohl’s near Chicago as the suspect dragged a fellow officer with his car. And there were at least two brawls at Walmarts, one in North Carolina and one in California — but neither resulted in major casualties.
- There’s no major U.S. economic data today due to the holiday, and the NYSE closes at 1 pm today. Have a great weekend.
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