While oil prices go down, online shopping bills go up

Your top financial and economic news for December 1


Happy Monday, and a happy official holiday season to you. If you’ve been holding off on the cheer through November, today’s the day to assuage any worries about the global economy – by starting your Christmas consumption!

The day ahead

Oil prices are expected to keep falling after last week’s major slump. This morning, Brent crude was at an almost five-year low, just above $67 – it’s since recovered a couple dollars – and with more news of slowing growth in China, there are big sell-offs in commodities.

The Canadian dollar is up a touch this morning – to $0.88 against the dollar. The loonie weakened last week, ending Friday at 87.41 cents despite news of better than expected growth from Statistics Canada. But other commodities currencies, including the Australian dollar, have fallen today.

Today is Cyber Monday. If you’re feeling like a little retail therapy, or you just missed Black Friday – don’t worry, you can get your Internet shopping fix today. An e-commerce extension of the American buying bonanza, Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest online shopping day in the U.S., and Canadian companies are also in on the sales.

But the verdict is out on whether consumers themselves will push buy into the hype, after Black Friday was a bit of a bust. U.S. sales fell 11 per cent this year, the second straight year that profits have been on the decline. A lack of consumer confidence was blamed, but for Canadians, Cyber Monday might be a better fit. According to a poll by Ipsos Reid, one in three Canadians prefer to shop online — because they hate malls.

Big banks, big numbers this week, as the Canadian banks release their fourth-quarter numbers, starting with BMO tomorrow. The banks have had a great year for profits – but optimism may be flagging as some banks restructure for choppy waters in 2015.

Jobs and politics will be the focus later this week, including the release of the U.K.’s autumn statement on Wednesday. With an election set for this spring, the BBC predicts it will be “pure political theatre.” On Friday, expect to see jobs numbers from both Canada and the U.K.

What you missed

China did worse than expected in November according to numbers on the productivity of the country’s factories. The economy is at its slowest since the financial crisis, and housing prices continue to fall.

The rouble is not doing well – the Russian currency plummeted six per cent from Friday, showing the sharpest drop since the Russian financial crisis in 1998. Sanctions have played a role, but for this commodity currency, it’s oil’s fall that’s hurt the most.

Japan’s not happy, either: Moody’s cut Japan’s credit rating – to A1. The rating agency said the move was triggered by a lack of confidence in the prime minister’s reforms, two weeks before a general election.

In other news, Italy is back in recession.

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