Here’s what’s important in the financial world this morning:
Retail: The retail industry, just off a successful holiday season, must now wait for data on how post-holiday sales went. The Monday after Christmas is one of the busiest of the year. Two things are at stake. The first is that stores use the last week of the year to clear inventory that is unlikely to be sold in 2012. This inventory management is critical to retailers’ balance sheets and profits. The second important aspect to the post-Christmas sales period is that it will signal whether consumers exhausted themselves as they shopped in November and December, or whether they have the money to continue to be active into 2012.
Bank of America: Bank of America is still under financial pressure. News reports say that it may still have to sell assets to meet new government capital rules. The financial firm already has said it will fire 30,000 people. It has taken $5 billion from Warren Buffett on terms that most bank experts say is not favorable to the company. It has sold $7.3 billion of its shares in China Construction Bank as well. Now, the U.S. bank will have to see if it has many valuable assets left to sell. Bank of America stock recently hit multiyear lows below $5. Any attempt by the firm to further bolster its balance sheet is bound to scare investors away.
French Job Data: France’s unemployment figures roses again. Analysts who watch the eurozone are concerned that if the second largest economy in the region falters, the recession in Europe could worsen very rapidly. The region relies on the health of France and Germany to help support its GDP, which is the world’s largest. The unemployment problem also will challenge the theory that austerity budget cuts can coexist with GDP recovery. Under its new budget, France has no stimulus firepower left to stimulate job growth.
Prius c Launch: Toyota released a new, small hybrid, called the Prius c. It will vie with hybrids from other major global car companies. Because of its size, this new hybrid will get better MPG than almost any other product. The car will launch into a sea of electric cars, clean diesel powered vehicles, and cars with high-mileage fuel-efficient gas engines like Ford’s eco-boost products. The alternative energy auto market has become so crowded that some efforts to gain market share by large manufacturers is bound to falter.
(via 24/7 Wall St.)