Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Upside-Down Times in Retail

Here's some more evidence of how topsy-turvy this economy has gotten: The retail sales figures for May were released by the Department of Commerce yesterday. They number was below par, as retail sales fell by 0.2 percent. That was the first time in almost a year the number had dropped.

Yet the New York Times reported that stocks surged by more than 1 percent on that news. Why is that? Because the Wall Street consensus was that the retail picture would be even worse than that, that the overall numbers would drop by 0.5 percent.

As we mentioned yesterday, Best Buy released its earnings report yesterday. It reported earning of 35 cents per share, almost exactly the same as its report from the same quarter in 2010, when it earned 36 cents per share. That was enough to boost its stock by 4 percent. In this retail landscape, treading water is good news.

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