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Retail Sales Drop in December for Third-Straight Month

Consumer spending fell for the third-consecutive month in December, confirming what many economists had predicted would be a disappointing holiday season for many retailers and restaurants.Retail sales fell 0.7 percent last month, the Commerce Department said on Friday, as the economic recovery showed signs of stalling and virus cases surged across the country, prompting shoppers to avoid stores amid a new wave of restrictions.For the second-straight month, the drop was worse than what most economists had predicted, showing that the deterioration of the broader economy in the final quarter of 2020 was deeper than expected.“In one line: grim,” is …

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Why Markets Boomed in a Year of Human Misery

The central, befuddling economic reality of the United States at the close of 2020 is that everything is terrible in the world, while everything is wonderful in the financial markets.It’s a macabre spectacle. Asset prices keep reaching new, extraordinary highs, when around 3,000 people a day are dying of coronavirus and 800,000 people a week are filing new unemployment claims. Even an enthusiast of modern capitalism might wonder if something is deeply broken in how the economy works.To better understand this strange mix of buoyant markets and economic despair, it’s worth turning to the data. As it happens, the …

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What Giant Skeletons and Puppy Shortages Told Us About the 2020 Economy

America has Zoom towns.Many middle-class millennials who lingered on the housing market’s sidelines for years reported that the pandemic had hastened their buying plans. They have been lured by the Fed’s pandemic-tied interest rate cuts, which have made mortgages cheap, and by the prospect of more space.Business & EconomyUpdated Dec. 23, 2020, 8:59 a.m. ETSome millennials, freed from office buildings by remote work arrangements, seem to be aiming for cities where single-family homes are relatively affordable — what some writers have labeled “Zoom” towns. People roughly ages 21 to 40 have accounted for a huge share of home purchase loans in places …

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New Signs of Economic Distress Emerge as Trump Imperils Aid Deal

With the fate of a federal aid package suddenly thrown into doubt by President Trump, economic data on Wednesday showed why the help is so desperately needed.Personal income fell in November for the second straight month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, and consumer spending declined for the first time since April, as waning government aid and a worsening pandemic continued to take a toll on the U.S. economy.Separate data from the Labor Department showed that applications for unemployment benefits remained high last week and have risen since early November.Taken together, the reports are the latest evidence …

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Trade With China Roars Back As Americans Are Stuck At Home

Consumer demand is so strong that it has overwhelmed the capacity of the cargo industry, leading to a record spike in shipping rates. The surge in shipments is clogging many supply chains, snarling major ports and delaying delivery of holiday gifts by up to several weeks.At the Port of Los Angeles, the country’s largest processor of container cargo and the gateway for many Chinese goods, shipping containers carrying Chinese imports are stacked like Legos in piles six high. Truckers jam the parking lots, waiting hours to pick up goods, which are then dispatched across the continent.October was …

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‘Bleak Friday’ for Stores as Pandemic Pushes Holiday Shopping Online

The 2020 edition of Black Friday did not offer the usual scenes of bustling stores and shoppers lined up outside discount chains and electronics retailers. Instead, most people bought online, if they bought at all.Crowds at malls and city shopping districts were relatively sparse over the holiday weekend in the face of rising coronavirus cases and warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid large groups. Major chains closed on Thanksgiving, after years of being open that day. And many Americans did their shopping before the weekend even began, drawn by sales that began in October.Analysts …

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