Gas prices ate into Americans' budgets last month
High fuel costs caused us to pay more at the pump in February and cut back just about everywhere else.
The Census Bureau indicated that retail sales were up in February to their highest in five months, but gave a whole lot of credit to gas prices that AAA says peaked close to $3.80 a gallon nationwide near the end of the month. That fueled a 5% hike in gas station sales from January to February, but didn't give companies that weren't Exxon Mobil (XOM) or ConocoPhillips (COP) much reason for joy.
Fuel prices have dropped since, but they've already taken a hefty toll on businesses in the suburbs. With drivers less likely to waste gas on a jaunt to the local strip mall or to their casual-dining chain of choice, spending at department stores like Macy's (M) and J.C. Penney (JCP) dropped 3.8% from February of last year while sales at restaurants like Darden's (DRI) Olive Garden, Bloomin' Brands' (BLMN) Outback Steakhouse and Brinker International's (EAT) Chili's were off 4%.
February's an ugly catch month between the end of the holiday season and the start of spring. Throw in some harsh late-season winter storms in the Midwest and Northeast, and it becomes even more nightmarish. In fact, one of the few bits of good news keeping the month from being a complete spending disaster was the 4.5% uptick in sales at home and garden stores like Home Depot (HD) and Lowe's (LOW) from February of last year. All those sales of shovels and bags of salt pile up in a hurry.
So is there any reason to hope for a more prosperous spring ahead? Well, there is the auto industry. Aided by Presidents Day deals, automakers sold 8.8% more cars in February than they did last year and continued the resurgent auto sales that helped drive economic recovery in 2012. Combine that with an improved jobs report, strong consumer confidence and record-high stock performance, and consumers should be feeling a lot less dour once they can stop hocking furniture to fill their gas tanks.
"This to us is something that we're not going to give up on, because we're not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people".
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
A basic income policy can actually ensure a decent standard of living for everyone.
- People left $500,000 in coins at airports last year
- How your driving can affect your credit
- Obamacare projected to cost hundreds of billions less
- November jobs report: Winners and losers
- Student loan debt climbs for 5th year in a row
- Wall Street finally notices Bitcoin
- Part-time workers hurt by on-call system
- 5 myths about late payments and your FICO scores
- Auto loan interest rates hit record low
[BRIEFING.COM] A solid November employment report translated into a solid day of gains for the major averages. While there was some talk that the encouraging job growth raised the odds of the Fed announcing a tapering at its December meeting, the message of the markets today was either that it didn't believe there would be a tapering this month or that it doesn't fear a tapering this month.
It was just one day, yet there was ample meaning wrapped up in the connection that the 10-yr ... More
More Market News
The Fed may start tapering in just a few months. Here are a few of the likely winners and losers.