February 16, 2016 11:20 am

Markets are up modestly this morning but are down from earlier highs. It had been hoped that OPEC meetings would result in some collusion (err agreement) to lower production but instead the agreement was only to freeze production and Iran was not part of the freeze agreement.

Statistics Canada reported retail sales for December. Most of the increases were likely driven by price increases on imported goods due to the low dollar. Liquor sales were up an astounding 11%, (if that can be believed), food sales were up 6%, footwear up 9% (the great majority of footwear would be imported).

Some items decreased in sales dollars either due to price decreases or lower purchase volumes. Electronics were down 14% (probably some price decreases despite the dollar) Hardware and home renovation products were down 14% (that is a scary decrease especially considering there would have been price increases on imported items). Sporting goods were down 8%.

Overall, it is quite a mixed picture for retail.

Statistics Canada also reported that manufacturing sales were up 1.2% in December although down 1.5% for 2015 as a whole. The decline in 2015 may have been due to lower commodity prices. Overall manufacturing is not responding as well to the lower dollar as would be hoped.