Markets opened to news that shows the true reality of the U.S. economy, with Retail Sales slumping 1.4% in the month of December. Now to put this in perspective, this was the one month of the year where many people make large purchases. Secondly, the market was expecting a 0.4% gain! For there to be a shortage of 1.8% in one single month alone is a real sign of what many economists have been blind to. To make matters worse, it was recently released that auto loan defaults have hit the highest levels in U.S. history. Think about that. Being without a car is almost as bad as being without a cell phone. If more U.S. consumers are in default on their car loans than ever before, how are they doing with their credit cards and student loans? I’ll tell you; not good. This is a precursor of troubled waters ahead.
This morning’s news of Retail Sales showing the worst report since the great recession caused the stock market to stumble. Stocks are now vacuolating above and beneath their 200-day moving average. It’s too early to make a call as to whether the bulls or the bears will win this battle. The one thing I know, investors have a short-term memory. Once news is released that points to a shining spot in the economy, we could see stocks quickly forget the Retail Sales report. Therefore, the current improvement in mortgage interest rate pricing could be short lived.
The risk of floating remains high. We will maintain a locking bias.