Investors of all types, from those who love exchange traded fund (ETF) to the ones who favor individual stocks, are weighing in the current environment with retailers, banks, and energy companies. Wall Street is bickering with concerns about the strength of consumer spending and the overall economy. Tim Paradis for the Associated Press reports that J.C.Penney’s (JCP) weak sales and cut forecast have put another crimp in retail, as they assume the consumer has given up. Higher gas prices and falling property values are causing consumers to close their wallets. Wells Fargo (WFC) president John Stumpf says the housing market downturn is the steepest decline since the Great Depression.

Gas prices, well past $3 a gallon in many places, may cause inflation to be even worse. Prices at the pump are expected to continue surging in November. Economists are concerned that rising energy prices will depress consumer spending and this will just add to the list of things weighing down an already slow economy, reports Martin Crutsinger for the Associated Press. The Labor Department reported the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.3% in October. At least holiday cheer doesn’t have a price tag.

Some retail ETFs and their year-to-date performance:

  • SPDR S&P Retail (XRT) down 13.0%
  • PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) down 16.2%
  • Retail HOLDRs (RTH) down 4.8%

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.