Here are a few quick random thoughts that I wanted to jot down:
1) According to people at manufacturers and dealers who I have spoken with, as hard as it is to believe sales in the auto industry are actually tracking worse thus far in February than they were in January. This coming President's Day weekend will be a big one for automakers and dealers. If they cannot pull a rabbit out of their hats, this is going to be another atrocious month.
Of course, the end of the month is always more telling than the beginning of the month for auto sales anyhow. Typically 60% of sales are reported during the final 10 days of the month. This trend has been even more obvious now that dealers are up to their eyeballs in new vehicle inventory. Dealers are actually dragging their feet in reporting sales to manufacturers so that they won't get pressured to take more cars.
How anyone can report that retail sales were up in January is beyond me. The government report this morning was very misleading.
2) Oil tumbles below $34 a barrel on economic fears. Crude supplies in the U.S. reached an 82-week high last week. Wow, I'm glad that I only have one very tiny position left in the oil sector in real life. At this point, I would be surprised if oil does not fall below the $32.70 multi-year low that it hit in January. My how things have changed from the near $150/barrel level that oil was sitting at last summer.
3) Jury finds against tobacco company in smoker death. This is interesting news. I wonder if this is the first drop in a massive flood of lawsuits against Big Tobacco again. As I mentioned previously, I am long Altria (MO). I definitely will be keeping an eye on this one. Remember what I said about no dividend being 100% secure like Smart Money claims?
4) Fed: Americans' net worth hammered by recession. No ship Sherlock. In other news grass is green and the sky is blue (though not over Wall Street). I think that the 20% drop in net worth figure mentioned by the Fed is a very, very conservative estimate.