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Stocks traded mixed Tuesday morning, with traders digesting key new economic data on the state of the consumer after a couple of major retailers topped quarterly earnings results.
New monthly retail sales data from the Commerce Department showed better-than-expected consumer spending trends heading into the holiday season. The total value of U.S. retail sales rose by 1.7% in October compared to September, topping expectations for a 1.4% rise, according to Bloomberg consensus data. The print was closely watched as an indicator of overall economic strength, given consumption comprises about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
Earnings results from retail juggernaut Walmart (WMT) further underscored solid shopping trends among American consumers. The company’s closely watched U.S. comparable same-store sales grew 9.2% over last year in the third quarter, and by 15.6% compared to the same period in 2019, to exceed estimates for growth of 7%, according to Bloomberg consensus data. E-commerce sales also held up and grew by a better-than-expected 8%, compared to the 1.9% rise expected, even as more consumers returned to in-person shopping. Shares of Walmart rose in early trading following the report, and shares of peers including Target and Costco rose in sympathy.
Home Depot (HD), meanwhile, also posted better-than-expected sales and earnings results as the company continued to see “elevated home improvement demand,” CEO Craig Menear said in Home Depot’s earnings statement. Comparable sales grew 6.1% compared to the 1.5% rise anticipated, and the stock closed in on a record high in pre-market trading.
These reports came at the tail end of what has already been an exceptionally strong earnings season. As of Friday, 92% of S&P 500 companies had reported actual results, and of these, 81% of them had reported better-than-expected earnings results, according to FactSet.
The slew of better-than-expected corporate profits, coupled with still-accommodative monetary policy support, have helped power stocks to record highs throughout the year, and pushed the S&P 500 up by nearly 25% so far in 2021. These factors have also helped investors continue to push through concerns over persistently elevated inflation — though the stickiness of these rising prices remains a closely watched risk for investors.
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originally published at Retail - RSV News