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Muted volumes, Black Friday, Amazon & Ocado

European markets have opened slightly lower on Friday while futures point to little change on Wall Street for a half-day trading session after Thanksgiving. Currency and commodity markets are flat.

Muted trading volumes around Thanksgiving and some fatigue from trade headlines meant the MSCI World index has just missed out on reaching record highs. That could change if US markets pick up where they left off with fresh records for the Dow & S&P 500.

Black Friday & Amazon

It is more than the online videos of scrums outside American shopping malls. Black Friday also serves as an interesting datapoint on health and trends for consumers. In Europe, which has only adopted Black Friday in the past few years, scepticism seems to be rising about the value offered by Black Friday deals. That scepticism potentially adds a downside skew to the sales figures. Nonetheless if consumers are feeling optimistic and have some disposable funds, spending at retailers should still get a healthy spike.

As with all things retail these days, all eyes will be on Amazon. Last year Amazon reported Cyber Monday as its single biggest shopping day ever. The record-setting sales will need to continue for Amazon to reach the $80 billion to $86.5billion 4th quarter revenue guidance it has given investors. Projecting past sales growth forwards, there is no reason to doubt Amazon can have another blowout Black Friday – and record-breaking holiday season. There is clearly some optimism they can do it since Amazon shares have gained 4.5% in just the last 5 days, reaching a 2-month high.

Ocado scores another big supermarket partnership

Shares of Ocado are making double-digit percentage gains on news of a partnership with Japan’s biggest supermarket Aeon Co. This just goes further in cementing Ocado’s place as a technology service provider after its previous deals in the US and Europe. This is the UK firm’s biggest foray into Asia and we’d expect that to be a big target for future growth. The huge jump in the shares today is not just about the extra sales from Japan. It is about the multiple investors are will to pay for a high growth tech firm over a retailer. The more tech deals Ocado can ink, the higher we would expect its P/E ratio to go.

Half an eye on next week: OPEC & NFP

With trade volumes down for the US holiday, investors probably have half-an eye on some big events next week. The semi-annual OPEC meeting and the latest US jobs figures will be the blockbusters. There are also rate decisions in Australia and Canada as well as PMIs from China, Europe and the US.

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