What are the four good 'at bats'? Private-sector employment grew by 140,000 for the month--more like an infield single than a solid hit, but still a baserunner. Consumers had a good swing at the ball. Black Friday was better than last year for in-store retail sales, as were the Thanksgiving week and the Black Friday weekend, up 1.9% over last year; for November same-store retail sales rose 3.1%. Cyber Monday generated a 22% to 33% increase in on-line sales relative to last year. No extra bases, but consumers provided a solid hit in November. Unemployment did OK: the four week average of initial unemployment claims fell to under 400,000. This doesn't qualify as a hit of any kind, but we can credit the improvement of almost 38,000 fewer layoffs than the prior year as a base on balls. Money supply (M3) turned around in the second half of the month after a weak showing in October: at the end of the month M3 stood at 14.8 billion, with a 6% year-over-year growth rate in the last week of the month. Still, this is lower than at the beginning of October or at the beginning of the Great Recession. Let's call this a foul ball and see what the money supply does in December.
A few more hits and the fourth quarter could be the turnaround we all need.