Chris Lau - Seeking Alpha

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Embrace the Unknown

The harder it is to predict the direction of the markets, the more important investors need to keep things simple. With a tug of war going on between post-Christmas rally and the return of the bears, less information is more.

Concentrate on monitoring the key figures that actually matter: job count, housing prices, and LIBOR spreads.

The Bad news: Latest figures
  • Continuing to claim jobless benefits jumped unexpectedly by 101,000 to 4.61 million
  • Unemployment figures due out Friday are expected to show that the U.S. lost a net total of 500,000 jobs in December
  • job cuts are expected to send the unemployment rate to 7 percent in December, up from 6.7 percent the previous month
December Sales
  • The International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs same-store sales tally dropped 1.7 percent for December, (estimate was for a 1 percent decline
  • Same-store sales for the November-December period dropped 2.2 percent, the weakest holiday period since at least 1969
The "Good" News:
  • Jan 20 - possible news for a $775 billion package of tax cuts and government spending over two years to revive the moribund economy (up to $850 billion with add-ons by lawmaker)