After a busy week that saw the April jobs report top expectations, President Trump get his first legislative win, and stocks do absolutely nothing, the struggling retail sector will be in focus.
On Friday, the the week’s two biggest economic data points will be released, with the monthly readings on retail sales and consumer prices set for release at 8:30 a.m. ET.
“After soft March inflation and spending readings, we expect to see some snapback in the April figures,” write economists at Deutsche Bank. Elsewhere on the economic calendar we’ll get readings on consumer and small business optimism, as well as an update on labor market turnover and producer prices.
On the earnings side, this week will feature some big names with Disney (DIS), Nvidia (NVDA), and Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. (SNAP) all set to report. This will be Snap’s first earnings report since going public in early March.
Retail names will also report earnings this week including Macy’s (M), Nordstrom (JWN), and Kohl’s (KSS). Year-to-date, the XRT ETF which tracks the retail sector is down 1.5%; the S&P 500 is up over 7%.
Monday: Labor market conditions index, April (1 expected; 0.4 previously)
Tuesday: NFIB small business optimism, April (104 expected; 104.7 previously); Job openings and labor turnover survey, March (5.74 million jobs open previously)
Wednesday: Import price index, April (+0.2% expected; -0.2% previously)
Thursday: Producer price index, April (+0.2% expected; -0.1% previously); Initial jobless claims (245,000 expected; 238,000 previously)
Friday: Consumer price index, April (+0.2% expected; -0.3% previously); “Core” CPI, year-on-year, April (+2.3% expected; +2.4% previously); Retail sales, April (+0.6% expected; -0.2% previously); University of Michigan consumer sentiment, May (97.0 expected; 97.0 previously)
Buffett holds court
As per usual, Buffett and Munger took on a wide range of topics, including hedge fund compensation, the impacts of technology, the benefits of low-cost investing, and how Trump’s tax cuts could benefit Berkshire.
Buffett also addressed the problems that arose at Wells Fargo (WFC), Berkshire’s largest equity holding. “At Wells Fargo, there were three very significant mistakes, but there was one that dwarfs all the others,” said Buffett. “At some point if there’s major problem, the CEO gets wind of it. And the CEO has to act.”
Buffett and Munger also talked extensively about the technology sector, with Munger telling shareholders “we failed you” by missing out on investing in Google (GOOGL). Munger added that he and Buffett “we smart enough” to figure out that the online advertising business was a good one, considering how much Berkshire’s GEICO unit was paying for ads.
Berkshire’s recent stake in Apple (AAPL) was also addressed, with Buffett calling the company more of a consumer goods company than a tech company, something that many people know is true but won’t quite say because, well, tech has caché and “consumer goods” companies are boring.
But perhaps Buffett’s most important comments came in response to the final question asked at the meeting.
Hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson, who has attended Berkshire Hathaway meetings for almost two decades, asked Buffett about the impacts of globalization and how both Berkshire and the country can address this issue, which has garnered increasing attention in the wake of Donald Trump’s election win.
“We have to have policies that take care of the people who become roadkill [because of free trade],” Buffett said. “Because it doesn’t make any difference to me if my life is miserable because I’ve been put out of business by something that’s good for 320-some million people in some sort of infinitesimal way and it’s messed up my life.”
Buffett said that in an enormously rich country like the United States, we have the resources to make sure that those who are left behind by a capitalist system that, in Munger’s view, is sure to hurt some people.
“We’ve got a rich society that can do that and a society that will benefit from free trade,” Buffett said, “and I think we oughta try to hit both objectives of making sure that there is no roadkill and, at the same time, that 320 million people get the benefits of free trade.”
Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland
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