IMF forecast pushes shares lower in Asia and Europe
A revised growth forecast from the International Monetary Fund with concerns over the Eurozone, Japan and emerging markets has pushed risk-averse investors towards safe havens. Asia’s major markets are mostly in the red with the exception of Shanghai; a private study of the Chinese services industry has shown weakness fuelling expectations of more stimulus for the economy. Eurozone markets are also lower with weak inflation and data increasing caution. US stock futures are edging higher; gold is up slightly; oil is at a 27 month low.
The Mortgage Bankers Association publishes its Purchase Applications data at 7am ET.
The Federal Open Market Committee minutes are released at 2pm ET.
Costco Wholesale and Healthcare Services are among the companies reporting earnings today.
Wal-Mart cutting health insurance benefits
As corporations keep a watchful eye on the costs of healthcare benefits, Wal-Mart is the latest to announce a reduction in the benefit it provides for 30,000 part-time workers and increasing premiums for some others. With businesses assessing the cost of the Affordable Healthcare Act more are shifting higher proportions of healthcare fees onto employees; some are opting to give employees lump sums to buy their own policies instead of providing cover. Changes introduced by Wal-Mart mean that an average employee will be working for almost an hour each pay-period to cover the additional cost of their healthcare. Read the full story.
Retailers could be heading for bumper holiday season
Executives at the National Retail Federation say that economic conditions could produce the best holiday season results in almost ten years. The Federation is forecasting an increase in spending for November and December of 4.1 per cent to $616.9 billion this year, which would top last year’s 3.1 per cent rise last year and be the best since 2005. With low inflation and interest rates and spending on energy and gasoline at lower levels, plus growing consumer confidence, those predictions could come true. However there is still caution on spending and many will be facing higher bills for healthcare next year which may curb excessive spending. The National Retail Federation says that many stores will once again choose to open on Thanksgiving night, which proved popular last year. Read the full story.
Americans choose tech over food
Americans love their technology so much there are prepared to sacrifice other pleasures to afford it. A new survey from CNBC shows that 49 per cent of respondents cut back on vacations, clothing, nights out and even food to enable them to pay for cellphones, tablets and other tech. Women aged 18 to 49 and those who earn between $50,000 and $75,000 are most likely to make savings in other areas to put towards gadgets. While 92 per cent would make sure they kept up mortgage or rent payments if they hit hard times and 90 per cent would pay utility bills, just 46 per cent would definitely pay credit cards with 41 per cent ranking cellphone bills highly. Read the full story.