Dec. 05 - Summary: Wall St tumbles for fifth session in the longest downturn in nearly three months; Economy stronger than thought in third quarter, but doubts arise; Consumers stingy in November; 2 million stolen web passwords found. Conway G. Gittens reports.
It's another day of second guessing as investors try to figure out when the U.S. central bank will stop providing so much aid to the economy. The stock market continues its slide - extending a losing streak to five days in a row. A solid upgrade to third quarter growth figures should excite investors - but it did not. The Commerce Department now says the economy grew at a 3.6 percent annual rate, that's the strongest since the start of 2012. But that's not as impressive as it sounds, says Barclays Senior Economist Michael Gapen. SOUNDBITE: MICHAEL GAPEN, SENIOR U.S. ECONOMIST, BARCLAYS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "When you look at domestic demand, so strip out what's happening in trade and what's happening in inventories, only grew 1.8 percent, so what we'll call the underlying figure, the underlying rate of growth was still relatively modest and what we just got was a very strong inventory contribution in the quarter." And what corporate inventory building giveth in one quarter, it likely taketh away the next. That may be very apparent in the retail sector where November was nothing to be jolly about. Product didn't move as quickly, with a number of retailers posting disappointing same-store sales, with customers not in the mood to splurge. And, in what may be an early sign of desperation, Kohl's says it will open doors non-stop from 6 am on the Friday before Christmas until Christmas Eve. Back to the economy quickly, jobless claims were down again last week. Two million stolen passwords for popular websites like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo have been discovered by a company that helps businesses fight cyber crime. Trustwave's SpiderLabs says victims are spread across the world from the United States to Europe to Thailand. The discovery was found while investigating a server in the Netherlands. Facebook and Twitter say they have reset those passwords. Finally, European stocks continue on a downward spiral even though the European Central Bank and the Bank of England kept interest rates at historic lows.