Faced with smaller crowds of less confident shoppers as well as six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than last year, retailers are pouring on margin-eating discounts.
“Retailers are selling at a point of desperation,” said Robin Lewis, a retail consultant based in New York. “They are going to be gouging each other’s eyes out. There’s more discounting going on than Heinz has pickles.”
As many as 140 million people planned to shop in stores and online yesterday through Sunday, the National Retail Federation said, down from 147 million last year. Black Friday will be the biggest day of the weekend, with about 97 million shoppers, the group said.
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The eurozone’s youth unemployment rate worsened last month to a new record high of 24.4% as under-25s in Spain, Italy and Portugal struggled to find work.
Spain’s youth unemployment rate increased to 57.4%, only marginally below Greece’s August high of 58%, which remains the highest rate of youth unemployment for any country in the eurozone’s history. Italy’s youth unemployment rate rose to 41.2%, from 40.5% the previous month. In Portugal, it rose to 36.5% from 36.2%.
The startling figures from southern Europe contrast with rates in the north where Germany has a 7.8% youth unemployment rate and the Netherlands an 11.6% rate.
But a small fall in the number of younger people out of work in the Netherlands and the country’s recent exit from a year-long recession failed to prevent it from being stripped of its AAA credit rating on Friday.
Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said on Friday that weakening growth prospects showed the country would struggle to improve its financial stability and generate new jobs.
It said: “The downgrade reflects our opinion that the Netherlands’ growth prospects are now weaker than we had previously anticipated, and the real GDP per capita trend growth rate is persistently lower than that of peers.”
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Japan’s top shippers plan to order around 90 new liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers worth about 1.8 trillion yen ($17.61 billion) by 2020 as they gear up to transport rising volumes of the super chilled fuel from North America and Australia.
The expansion plans reflect rising LNG demand in nuclear-free Japan to generate electricity and also in other Asian countries such as China and South Korea. Global LNG trading volume is expected to grow to 400 million tonnes (1.1023 ton) in 2020 from 250 million tonnes in 2012, according to industry data.
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (9104.T), Japan’s second-largest shipping company, plans to increase the number of its LNG carriers to 110 by 2020 from about 70 now, a spokesman said.
via Japan shippers plan to order 90 new LNG tankers worth $17.6 billion by 2020 | Reuters
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Investors are keeping a keen eye on China this week as the world’s second-biggest economy gears up for its Third Plenum of the Communist Party. The summit of China’s leaders is expected to deliver some of the biggest reforms for the country in 35 years.
China is the one of the world’s biggest producers and consumers for a range of commodities. In ranks number one in the steel and coal industry, according to the World Coal Association, as well as in iron ore, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Copper Development Association state it’s the world’s second biggest producer of copper, behind Chile. Commodities are a big deal for the biggest population on the planet, and prices have risen in the last 10 years with China the underlying driver of this “super-cycle”.
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South Korea’s currency reserves hit a record high in October in what analysts say is a clear sign that Seoul is determined to prevent a sharp appreciation of the won and build up its fire power to offset the impact of any tapering by the Federal Reserve.
According to data released on Tuesday by the Bank of Korea (BOK), the country’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $343.23 billion at the end of last month, up $6.3 billion from the end of September and jumping by the biggest amount in about two years.
Analysts suspect the rise in reserves reflects central-bank intervention in the currency markets to curb a rise in the won, which has climbed almost 9 percent against the U.S. dollar since late June.
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China has launched a new benchmark lending rate, or the “loan prime rate”, that guides commercial banks in setting interest rates when lending to their best customers, the country’s central bank said on Friday.
The new rate would help China’s benchmark interest rates market move towards a system led by market forces, the central bank said in a statement.
The loan prime rate, which currently only has a one-year tenor, was set by nine commercial banks on Friday including China’s four biggest banks. The rate will be announced on every working day on the Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate (SHIBOR) website.
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The Canadian dollar had the biggest two-day slump in four months after the central bank dropped language about the need for future interest-rate rises that had been in place for more than a year, as risks of a worsening economy increased.
The currency reached a six-week low against its U.S. counterpart after the Bank of Canada said yesterday inflation will remain less than its 2 percent target until the end of 2015, two quarters longer than forecast in July, with the risks of further weakness taking on “increasing importance.” Crude oil, the nation’s largest export, touched the lowest level since June.
“The shift in monetary policy is a driver,” said David Doyle, a strategist at Macquarie Capital Markets, by phone from Toronto. “The U.S. outlook is looking much more positive than Canada’s. That should lead to weakness in the Canadian dollar.”
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The U.S. debt-ceiling debacle may have led China’s Dagong Global Credit Rating to downgrade its U.S. sovereign debt rating, but analysts say it’s unlikely to impact China’s decision to hold Treasurys.
“I don’t see there being a massive change to [China's] asset allocation towards Treasurys. Look at the level of FX reserves they have, there’s no other market that provides the liquidity that they need,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG. “There will be some diversification, but there’s no other market that can house the size of capital that they have.”
China is the biggest foreign holder of U.S. government debt. At the end of July, China held $1.28 trillion in Treasurys, accounting for roughly 22.8 percent of all foreign holdings of U.S. government debt.
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There’s no denying it: China’s got a debt problem. The world’s second-largest economy is struggling to contain growing local government debt, the result of easy credit and round after round of stimulus.
Nobody knows the exact scale of the problem, but economists surveyed by CNNMoney estimate debt levels reached 14.1 trillion yuan to 19.7 trillion yuan by the end of last year, or roughly one-third of the country’s gross domestic product.
Those estimates put local debt at nearly double what it was three years ago, when China last conducted a nationwide debt audit. By the end of 2010, Beijing reported 10.72 trillion yuan ($1.7 trillion) of local and regional government debt. In June, the government sampled debt levels in 36 select governments and found their average debt had increased 13% between 2010 and the end of 2012.
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Gold futures may rebound to $1,425 an ounce in the fourth quarter after forming a “double bottom,” according to technical analysis by Logic Advisors.
Yesterday, gold had the biggest gain in almost two weeks on speculation that the Federal Reserve will delay reducing monetary stimulus amid the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years. The price has dropped 21 percent this year, tumbling into a bear market in April, as U.S. equities rose to a record and inflation remained moderate, eroding the appeal of the metal as a store of value.
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