Looking back at the data for November

An electronic board shows stock movements. The 2008 stock market crash sent folks walking away from Wall Street. Even today, an air of fear still holds some from re-entering the market. Have investors come around?

With November now in the books, we have an opportunity to step back from the various economic numbers we bring you from day to day and see what it all adds up to.

What's the main takeaway?

"A very mixed bag," says Juli Niemann, analyst at Smith Moore & Company in St. Louis.

When it comes to consumers, there's no clear picture. "We're seeing auto sales going up about 15 percent in November," Niemann points out. However, she adds that overall consumer spending was down for the month. Retailers saw lagging sales, in part because of Hurricane Sandy.

The big negative to worry about: American households hit a 40-year low in their net worth. "When consumers are spending," Niemann says, "they're being cheap and thrifty about it."

The housing market looks a bit brighter, with low interest rates and new home construction taking center stage. Still, "this is no big boom," Neimann is quick to add.

About the author

Juli Niemann is executive vice-president for research and portfolio management with Smith, Moore and Company.

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