Sometimes, statistics are nothing more than "lies, damned lies," Jim Cramer said Monday on CNBC’s “Mad Money.” Quoting Mark Twain, Cramer referred to the slew of U.S. economic data coming out of the government that defies the logic we hear from the sector leaders themselves.
Just look at today’s retail sales numbers, he said, which fell for a third-straight month and showed a much worse-than-expected 0.5 percentdrop in June retail sales. The markets swooned after that, and the Dow Jones dropped 49 points to 12,727, the Nasdaq fell 11 points to 2,896 and the S&P 500 suffered a fractional loss to finish at 1,353.
Despite the data, though, Cramer remained skeptical. “If the consumer’s so tight-fisted, then how the heck can Target, Wal-Mart Storesand Costcobe hitting their 52-week highs?” he asked. He noted that all three major retailers have done so over multiple days in the past week. Retail auto sales are also soaring — with the industry now running on a 14.4 million annualized sales rate. Chrysler sold 20 percent more cars than it did in 2011 and more than any year since 2007. General Motorssaw its sales increase 16 percent, and Ford Motoralso reported sales that topped analysts’ estimates.
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But no bright spot can compare to what the banks have been telling us, Cramer said. In addition to positive earnings out of Citigroup, JPMorganand Wells Fargo, JPMorgan also cited retail spending and retail lending as the key areas of strength for the bank, and it was about more than just good margins. “JPMorgan saw strong sales in precisely the areas that would most impact consumer spending,” he said.
Perhaps even more remarkable than that was Wells Fargo’s second quarter. “It’s got the pulse like no other in the single most important sales category out there,” he said. “The sale of homes.” Now, Wells is the largest and most aggressive lender in the nation, with more than 30 percent of the U.S. mortgage market.