1) The MasterCard retail data: not the final word on retail. Everyone's in a funk because MasterCard Spending Pulse report says holiday spending growth was up just 0.7 percent from a year.
Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, was on our air this morning, and said he is expecting a 4 percent gain.
Why the difference? Four percent vs.0.7 percent is not a trivial; Shay simply blamed it on "different methodologies."
That's being polite. Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, estimates that TOTAL retail sales, including e-commerce, increased 2.8 percent.
Me, I want to hear what the retailers say. I'm quite sure some will respond with aggressive promotions, but remember that for many, inventories are fairly low.
Also note: there have not been many aggressive changes in analyst estimates yet, and although retail stocks are down 1 to 3 percent today, the group as a whole is down only about 5 percent since the S&P Retail Index hit an historic high on December 3.
Bottom line: absent an historic collapse, retail stocks as a group should outperform the S&P 500 for the fifth consecutive year.