Canadian retail sales jump 0.9% on higher auto sales By Reuters



By Kelsey Johnson

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian retail sales rose a higher-than-expected 0.9% in November, largely offsetting October’s decline, Statistics Canada said on Friday, as sales picked up at motor vehicle and parts dealers as well as food and beverage stores.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a gain of 0.4% for overall sales. Statistics Canada revised October’s decline down slightly to 1.1% from an initial 1.2%.

Sales excluding autos rose 0.2% in November, the agency noted, lower than the 0.4% gain predicted by analysts.

“November’s retail sales figures did nothing to lift the fog of uncertainty surrounding the health of the Canadian consumer,” said Andrew Grantham, a senior economist with CIBC Capital Markets, in a note.

“With other elements of discretionary spending largely weaker on the month, we still think there’s enough concern regarding the consumer outlook to warrant an interest rate cut by April, particularly if the unemployment rate starts to nudge higher,” he added.

Earlier this week, the Bank of Canada, which has held its overnight interest rate steady for more than a year, opened the door to a possible rate cut if a recent slowdown in domestic growth persisted.

Recent economic data, the bank said, had been mixed, adding it would pay particular attention to developments in consumer spending, the housing market and business investment going forward. Money markets now see about a 24% chance of a rate cut in March. [BOCWATCH]

While the uptick reported in Friday’s sales data breaks a string of lackluster economic figures for November, including disappointing manufacturing and wholesale trade numbers, RBC Senior Economist Nathan Janzen said the data likely won’t change the Bank of Canada’s thinking just yet.

“The central bank will rightly be more focused on economic data releases until it becomes clear whether recent faltering is a sign of underlying fundamental deterioration, or yet another statistical blip in what is often volatile Canadian economic data,” he said in a note.

Statscan said motor vehicle and parts dealer sales rose 3.0%, led primarily by new car dealers, who saw a 2.8% increase in sales.

Meanwhile, food and beverage store receipts increased by 0.9% in November, largely thanks to increased sales at grocery stores, which jumped 1.3%.

Six of the 11 subsectors tracked by Statistics Canada saw an increase, accounting for 70% of all retail trade. In volume terms, retail sales grew by 0.7%.

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U.K. Retail Sales Disappoint; Sterling Weakens By Investing.com


© Reuters.

U.K. disappointed again in December dropping 0.6%, adding further force to arguments for an interest rate cut from the Bank of England at the end of the month.

November sales were also revised down to a drop of 0.8% from an originally reported 0.6%.

Total retail sales were up 0.9% over the year in the reported month, a lot weaker than the 2.6% gain expected.

Sterling fell in response, with trading at $1.3066 at 4:30 AM ET (09:30 GMT), down from $1.3100 before the release. traded at 0.8518, up from 0.8506.

The British Retail Consortium earlier January pointed to the high street suffering the first annual sales decline since 1995. Many retailers, including big high-street names such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer (LON:), have struggled as political instability and worries over Brexit weighed on consumer confidence.

Traders are pricing in around a 60% chance of a rate cut from the Bank of England later this month, with a reduction seen as a near certainty in the first half of the year.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Activist hedge funds stepped up calls for asset sales and spin-offs in 2019: data


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hedge funds that push for change at corporations stepped up their demands for asset spin-offs and sales last year, making them part of nearly half of all activist investor campaigns waged in 2019, according to data released on Wednesday.

“A record 99 campaigns with an M&A-related thesis were launched in 2019,” said Jim Rossman, the head of shareholder advisory at Lazard, which compiled the statistics. Calls for companies to be sold outright or for certain units to be divested accounted for 47% of last year’s activity, up from 35% in previous years, Rossman said.

Some of the most noteworthy mergers and acquisition plays from last year include Carl Icahn pushing for Hewlett Packard to accept a takeover offer from Xerox. Icahn owns shares in both companies.

Icahn also pushed for a strategic review at Caesars which was later purchased by Eldorado Resorts.

At AT&T, Elliott Management urged the company to consider selling off certain parts of its business. Elliott also called on Marathon Petroleum to break itself apart before the company spun off its Speedway unit.

The surge came as activist funds delivered their best returns in years, posting an average 18.3% return in 2019, Hedge Fund Research data show.

Activism has picked up dramatically since the 2008 financial crisis. But it was popular long before, including in the period form the 1970s to late 1980s when financiers including Carl Icahn and Nelson Peltz were called corporate raiders for strong-arm tactics used to replace top management and improve value for shareholders.

Activists also shifted their focus abroad with more non-U.S. companies being targeted, according to Lazard statistics.

Last year non-U.S. targets made up 40% of all campaigns, up from 30% in 2015. Among other destinations, they waged 19 campaigns in Japan, with Third Point returning for a second push for changes at Sony.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell



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U.S. refinery sales hit the brakes, with 5% of capacity on block By Reuters



By Jessica Resnick-Ault and Laura Sanicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) – From coast to coast, U.S. refineries are available for the taking, but nobody is buying.

With the news that Royal Dutch Shell (LON:) Plc is looking to unload its Anacortes, Washington, facility, there are seven different U.S. refineries on the block now, accounting for about 5% of oil processing capacity, according to data compiled by Reuters.

Even with U.S. energy production at an all-time record, these properties, located from Washington state to Pennsylvania, are having trouble finding bidders because of unfavorable locales, worries about falling margins, and the coming restart of nearby facilities in the Caribbean that will add to competition, bankers and analysts said.

Just one U.S. refinery transaction closed last year: Chevron (NYSE:) Corp’s purchase of a Houston-area plant from Petrobras.

Prior to that, a flurry of corporate mergers saw independent refiners Alon, Western and Tesoro acquired by rivals. The consolidation left some acquirers, like Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:), with limited appetite or ability to consolidate the sector further.

“When some of your really big companies have stopped buying refineries, that really slows things down,” said Matthew Blair, head of refiners equity research at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co.

In addition, new international shipping fuel regulations, known as IMO 2020, and the U.S. renewable fuels standard that requires refineries to blend biofuels into their gasoline pool, has proved a deterrent, as both are seen as potentially detrimental for refining margins.

Last week, Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:) said fourth-quarter results would decline from the year-earlier period, citing weak margins in refining and chemicals.

“Refiners don’t want to get overleveraged if they’re on the downside of the cycle where margins are eroding,” said Matt Flanagan, downstream energy practice director at Opportune, based in Houston.

PBF Energy Inc announced plans to buy a San Francisco-area refinery from Shell in June, but that transaction has still not closed as expected. The company was not immediately available to comment.

CVR Energy Inc, which operates two refineries, said in an October conference call that it failed to find a buyer for the company due to valuation disagreements.

East Coast assets have proven particularly tough to unload, as they lack both the scale of U.S. Gulf facilities and access to U.S. crude production. They also face competition from two shuttered Caribbean plants due to restart in coming months that have easier access to overseas crude and more flexible fuel distribution systems.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions put its 335,000-bpd refinery up for sale as part of a bankruptcy proceeding, and is expected to review bids in an auction next week. However, only one bidder has said it plans to revive refinery operations at the site, which shut last year after a fire.

Delta Airlines (NYSE:) retained bankers to help sell its Trainer, Pennsylvania refinery almost a year ago, but has not found a buyer.

Exxon Mobil’s Billings, Montana refinery, which has access to local crude and logistics systems, may not sell if a buyer is unwilling to pay a premium for the plant, people familiar with the process said.

Beyond market risk, potential buyers must contend with environmental risk due to liability, and the possibility of high-profile disasters like last year’s blaze at Philadelphia Energy Solutions.

“Refiners don’t want to overpay for an asset with environmental liabilities that might require unknown capital expenditure to meet future requirements,” Flanagan said.



Australian Retail Sales Jump Most in 2 Years on Black Friday By Bloomberg



(Bloomberg) — Australians opened their wallets in November to take advantage of Black Friday sales, providing a much-needed boost for retailers that have struggled in an environment of record-high household debt and stagnant real wages.Retail sales surged 0.9% in the month before Christmas, more than double economists’ 0.4% estimate, as consumers took advantage of steep discounts to buy up ahead of the traditional holiday period, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed in Sydney Friday. The result sets up a potentially weak December if typical festive spending was pulled-forward. December sales have actually declined in the prior two years.

“The emergence of Black Friday in Australia’s retail landscape has boosted sales,” said James McIntyre, chief economist for Australia at Bloomberg Economics. “But the pull forward of Christmas spending has also set up the December figures for a very poor outcome, which will be compounded by the impacts of bush fires and smoke pollution across Australia’s major economic centers. The slump in consumer sentiment over recent weeks is likely to weigh on spending into January as well.”

The result is likely to bring some relief to the Reserve Bank and government after Australians opted to use last year’s three interest-rate reductions to pay down their mortgages faster and saved their tax rebates, third-quarter GDP data showed. Today’s figures also show the rising importance of online spending, with with e-retailing’s share of turnover climbing to 7.1% from 6.6% in November 2018.

Breaking down the data, department stores and clothing, footwear and personal accessories both rose by more than 3%. Indeed, of the six categories surveyed, only one — other retailing — fell in the month.

“We have seen strong growth in Black Friday sales, both in areas such as electrical goods and online sales, but also in areas such as clothing and furniture,” said Ben James, an official at the statistics office. “While seasonal adjustment removes regular seasonal patterns associated with Black Friday based on prior results, the strong seasonally adjusted rises in a number of sub-groups this month shows that the impact of this Black Friday exceeded that of previous years.”

The Australian dollar rose 0.2% following the release and was trading at 68.63 U.S. cent at 12:38 p.m. in Sydney, little changed from Thursday’s close. Traders scaled back pricing for a February rate cut to less than 50% following the retail figures.

(Updates with comment from economist in third paragraph.)

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Macy’s allays holiday season sales worries, shares rise 5% By Reuters



(Reuters) – Macy’s Inc (N:) reported just a 0.6% drop in holiday period same-store sales on Thursday, quelling fears of a more dramatic fall in the department store operator’s numbers for the crucial annual shopping season after an earlier profit warning.

The company benefited from strong online sales and demand for gifting assortments, Macy’s Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gennette said.

The reported drop was for the months of November and December.

Macy’s shares rose nearly 5% in premarket trading.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Hong Kong retail sales drop 23.6% in November as protests persist By Reuters


© Reuters. Retailer stores inside a shopping mall have closed down for half day following a violent attack on residents happened at Yuen Long, in Hong Kong

By Donny Kwok

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong retail sales extended their free-fall in November as months of anti-government protests scared off tourists, hitting spending and threatening the survival of small businesses.

Sales fell 23.6% from a year earlier to HK$30 billion ($3.85 billion), government data showed on Friday. It was the tenth consecutive month of declines and compared with a revised 24.4% drop in October, which was the steepest on record.

As sometimes violent protests spread across various shopping districts, many retail operators, from prime shopping malls to family-run businesses, have been forced to close early or for entire days over the past few months.

In volume terms, retail sales fell 25.4%, compared with a revised 26.4% drop in October.

“The near-term outlook for the retail trade continues to hinge on how the local social incidents will evolve,” a government spokesman said.

“As such, ending violence and restoring social order are essential to the recovery of the retail trade and indeed that of the whole economy.”

Hong Kong sank into recession for the first time in a decade in the third quarter, as the protests plunged the city into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Paul Chan, the city’s financial secretary, said on Sunday that a contraction in the fourth quarter was “unavoidable” and the budget in February would focus on boosting the economy.

HIGH-END HURT

Tourist arrivals in Hong Kong plunged 55.9% year-on-year in November, the steepest fall since May 2003, when the city was hit by an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

November tourist arrivals fell to 2.65 million, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. That compared with a 43.7% plunge in October.

The number of mainland visitors fell 58.4% in November to 1.93 million, accounting for 72.8% of arrivals.

High-end retailers who rely heavily on mainland Chinese spending, have been particularly hard hit.

Sales of jewelry, watches, clocks and valuable gifts plunged 43.5% on-year in November compared with a revised 43% drop in October, data showed. Medicines and cosmetics fell 33.4%, while department store sales dropped 32.9%.

The Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKMA) estimates about 7,000 businesses, or more than one in 10 retailers, will be forced to close in the next six months.

HKRMA has called for more government relief measures and urged landlords to cut rents.

($1 = 7.7822 Hong Kong dollars)

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Brazil auto sales seen rising 9% in 2020: federation By Reuters



SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil auto sales in 2020 are seen rising 9% from 2019 to 2.9 million units, including cars, buses and trucks, said automakers federation Fenabrave on Thursday.

In 2019, the federation said Brazil auto sales increased 8.65% from 2018 to 2.79 million units.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



U.S. pending home sales rise in November By Reuters



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose in November, driven by a surge in new contracts being signed in the country’s West, the National Association of Realtors said on Monday.

The NAR’s pending home sales index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 1.2% to a reading of 108.5. The previous month’s reading was revised upward.

Pending home contracts are seen as a forward-looking indicator of the health of the housing market because they become sales one to two months later.

Compared with one year ago, pending sales were up 7.4%.

Compared to the prior month, contracts increased 5.5% in November in the West. They also increased in the Midwest but were lower in the South and Northeast.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



China’s 2019 retail sales to rise 8%: commerce ministry By Reuters



BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s retail sales are expected to increase 8% in 2019 to 41.1 trillion yuan ($5.88 trillion), the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday, citing a commerce ministry official.

That compared with a 9% rise in retail sales in 2018.

($1 = 6.9875 renminbi)

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.