Amazon shares are doing something unusual — here's what it means for the consumer

Shares of Amazon are falling in tandem with a popular retail-tracking exchange-traded fund, and one equity strategist is watching the trend closely as it may signal trouble ahead for the health of the U.S. consumer.

Shares of Amazon are falling along with the S&P Retail ETF, the XRT, pointed out Matt Maley, equity strategist at Miller Tabak. The XRT has fallen for three consecutive weeks; meanwhile, shares of Amazon have fallen for four straight weeks.

"The reason this could be an issue is because the XRT had been going down for quite some time, showing the retail stocks weren't doing well, but everybody was saying that's okay, the consumer is still doing well, because they're buying all their stuff through Amazon," Maley said Friday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

Now that the stock and the fund (of which Amazon is a component) are declining simultaneously, something it has done quite infrequently, Maley said this raises a flag about the state of the U.S. consumer and consumer spending.

This caution comes even as consumer sentiment proved to be quite strong on Friday according to the latest University of Michigan consumer confidence reading, and monthly retail sales saw a solid rebound this week.

Still, consumer debt just touched a new record high this week, according to a report from the New York Fed, which gives Maley further pause about the U.S. consumer.

On a more granular level, Maley pointed out, shares of the XRT are making "lower lows." At the same time, if shares of Amazon were to break below the $950-per-share mark, this would prove quite negative for the stock on a technical basis as the level has recently acted as support. The stock closed Friday at $958.47 per share.


Trades to Watch

Trader Bios


Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Sara Eisen

Sara Eisen joined CNBC in December 2013 as a correspondent, focusing on the global consumer. She is co-anchor of the 10AM ET hour of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" (M-F, 9AM-11AM ET), broadcast from Post 9 at the New York Stock Exchange.

In March 2018, Eisen was named co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F, 1PM-3PM ET), which broadcasts from CNBC Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Read more