Most major indices were higher in broad upward movement in a holiday-shortened week.
In fact, equity sectors that have not participated as much in this year's rally out-performed leading sectors such as Technology and Communication Services. Sectors such as Healthcare, Utilities, and Consumer Defensive, which are negative for the year, moved higher last week. The remainder of the year is about the "Santa Claus Rally" and the health of the consumer. While the total numbers are not yet in for Black Friday sales, online purchases on Friday were up 7.5% year-over-year. In addition, retail store shopper traffic was up 2.1% on Friday versus 2022. Redbook Sales on a year-over-year basis showed +3.4% growth and do not yet resemble prior recessionary periods, for the perma-bears in the audience.
Initial Jobless Claims dropped considerably from 233,000 the previous week to 209,000 last week.
A lot has been made of some of the seasonal revisions to claims over the past several weeks, however, you can see that, even with the revisions, the trend is lower since the middle of the year. This also bodes well for the consumer as plenty of jobs means holiday shoppers will have money in their pockets for Christmas. Interest rates are easing, along with mortgage rates, and this week we'll get the Fed's favorite measure of inflation, which is expected to be lower than the previous month. Volatility is at year-to-date lows, so some choppiness heading into year-end should not come as a shock.
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