Anne DInnocenzio for Associated Press reports that sales figures released Thursday showed two kinds of consumers: ordinary folks who are buying a little more but still focused on bargains, and the affluent who are spending more freely on brand names such as Gucci and other luxury brands as they feel encouraged by their rebounding stock portfolios. Claymore/ROBB Luxury ETF (NYSEArca: ROB) may reflect the shift eventually, but it’s down more than 5% today. [Luxury ETFs and the Price-Conscious Consumer.]
U.S. productivity rose in the fourth quarter and factory orders are up as companies work to rebuild profits while keeping payrolls pared down. Bob Willis for Bloomberg reports that employee output per hour rose at a 6.2% annual rate at the end of 2009, capping the biggest annual gain in six years, according to the Labor Department,
Toyota (NYSE: TM) has a new problem to contend with on top of the 8.1 million recalled cars: brake issues in the 2010 Prius. A formal investigation under way. Toyota officials estimate the total cost of the global recall could be as much as $2 billion, including the loss of 100,000 vehicle sales in the United States and Europe, reports Peter Dapena for CNN Money.
Read the disclaimer, as Tom Lydon is a board member of Rydex|SGI.