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Retail Sales, Jobless Claims, Gas Crunch, IPO Season


© Reuters.

By Geoffrey Smith — The focus stays on economic data on Thursday, with U.S. retail sales and jobless claims due. European car sales fall due to shortages and problems with other components. Space stocks also benefit from SpaceX’s first all-civilian flight, and the post Labor Day surge in IPOs. Europe’s oil price crisis causes gas prices to rise in Asia and the U.S., while oil prices drop as supplies problems are resolved. This is what you should know about financial markets Thursday 16 September.

1. Retail sales and jobless claims

The focus stays on the U.S. economy today with data for August due at 8:30 AM ET, along with weekly numbers.

Retail sales are expected to fall 0.8% this month according to analysts, due in part because consumers redirect their disposable income away from goods and services.  The monthly retail sales figures have been inconsistent throughout spring and summer. However, they are up 15.8% over the same period last year. This illustrates how consumers spent so much to drive a quick recovery of the economy.

However, initial jobless claims will have risen to 330,000 this week, from 310,000 in the post-pandemic period. The ’s monthly business survey is also due.

2. Shortages hit European car sales

One sector where sales are definitely cooling off is in autos, as inventory shortages and price spikes put customers off from purchases.

That much had already been hinted at in the ‘used cars’ component of U.S. inflation data earlier this week and was rammed home overnight by figures showing a sharp drop in car registrations in Europe last month. The sales were 14% lower than the previous year in Germany and 35% less in France. They also fell by 19% and 30% in the U.K., Italy, and France.

This phenomenon also showed up in weaker than expected export data overnight from Japan. The 26% increase in exports was less than expected, and it came out to be only 26%.

3. Stocks set to open a tad lower

U.S. stock markets are expected to edge lower later, pending the day’s most important economic data.

By 6:15 AM ET, were down 30 points, or 0.1%. were down 0.1% and were down 0.2%.

Space-themed stocks appear likely to get some attention after the launch of SpaceX’s first all-civilian flight, while Pfizer (NYSE:) and Moderna (NASDAQ:) will also be in the spotlight after trying to support their campaign for booster shots with admissions that the initial protection afforded by their Covid-19 vaccines wanes over time.

Dutch Bros coffee chain and Thoughtworks tech consultancy will be on the agenda. Thoughtworks had strong trading starts after both their IPOs were priced on Tuesday. Cathie Wood’s ARK portfolio of investment funds is putting selling pressure on Tesla (NASDAQ:).

4. European gas crunch forces industry shutdowns, drive U.S., Asian prices higher

The crunch in European energy prices continued, with high natural gas prices in particular forcing the first shutdowns of industrial customers in the U.K. CF Industries (NYSE:) said its two fertilizer plants in England would close until further notice.

Day-ahead in the U.K. rose to 177 pence a therm, the highest on record and nearly 70% above the previous record high. Bloomberg reported that European demand had led big utilities from Japan and Pakistan to pay record prices for cargoes due November and December. U.S. Henry Hub futures meanwhile declined by 2% while remaining close to their seven-year high of $5.35/mm Btu.

As governments begin to tax the windfall earnings of European energy companies, share prices in European shares continued to fall. Spain’s Iberdrola (OTC:) and Endesa are now down 12% and 10% for the week, while Italy’s Enel (MI:) is down 6.8%.

5. Oil takes a breather as supply concerns ease

Crude oil prices are also easing after hitting their highest level since early August on Wednesday in response to confirmation of another sharp draw on U.S. stockpiles.

By 6:30 AM ET, futures were down 0.2% at $72.50 a barrel while futures were down 0.1% at $75.40 a barrel.

Concerns about supply have waned as Libya’s biggest export terminal resumed operations after a dispute with striking workers and security guards was resolved. Royal Dutch Shell (LON) also indicated that it was ready to restart Perdido’s platform in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday.