The Business Times

Holiday sales, jobs data fuel market volatility

Published Sun, Dec 8, 2013 · 10:00 PM
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VOLATILITY returned to the stock market last week as holiday-sales tallies disappointed investors and "tapering" fears resurfaced.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its first weekly decline in more than a month, though it finished with one of the strongest gains this year to bounce back above 16,000. Black Friday and Cyber Monday - the traditional launches of mall and online holiday sales respectively - were viewed as an inauspicious start to the holiday shopping season. Reports echoed Wal-Mart's earlier warnings that this was shaping up to be the worst year-end for retailers since the depths of the recession in 2009.

Consumer confidence is not the problem. While confidence and consumption dipped during the prolonged budget debate and government shutdown, both have since bounced back. The main problem for retailers this year is each other. Years after the onset of recession, online and mall-based retailers are still engaged in price wars. With the help of the Internet, Consumers are comparison - shopping more than ever, forcing retailers to cut prices more than they had intended.

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