“Wall Street’s latest worry: The current state of the American consumer.
Despite a blockbuster June employment report, buffeted by positive auto sales and same-store retail sales numbers, many investors and strategists worry that American consumers just don’t have the cash, or the willingness to spend it, that is required for the recovery to continue.
In a filing released on Thursday, Rent-A-Center CEO Robert Davis said that “Macro-economic pressures continue to burden our financially constrained consumers contributing to softer than expected demand in our U.S. business segments. Consequently, revenue and earnings for the second quarter 2014 will not meet expectations.” (In response, the stock dropped by more than 10 percent on Friday.)
Some on Wall Street are ringing the alarm bell as well.
Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx Group, warned on Friday that there’s a chance stocks will get rattled by “a shallow U.S. recession starting early next year,” caused by “slack consumer spending and a slower labor market,” due in part to the Federal Reserve reducing its stimulative measures.
“From a jobs perspective, things are slowly healing. But I do think that the desire to spend is still somewhat sketchy,” he told CNBC.com. “We’re still at low levels of confidence compared to other recoveries.”
Betting on the consumer has not been a great call this year. The S&P 500‘s consumer discretionary sector is up less than 1 percent in 2014, compared with a 6 percent rise for the index as a whole, making it the single worst-performing sector. (Of course, this comes after several years of outperformance.)
Some light on the consumer should be shed this week….”