February 19, 2016 11 am eastern

Markets are down this morning. But Canadian Tire is up another 1.9% to $128.

Statistics Canada reports that annual inflation is running at 2.0% as of January and is also at 2.0% on a core basis (strips out volatile food, which is up and gasoline which is down).

The Bank of Canada has really just one mandate and that is to keep inflation within its target band of 1 to 3% with a mid-point of 2.0%. It appears they are doing their job well on that score. The Bank has little or no mandate to control the exchange rate.

Statistics Canada also reported December retail sales for December. That is odd because they also reported this on Tuesday. And some of the numbers are vastly different. I will try to look into what the difference is between the two reports. (Update, Tuesday’s report was for large retailers only)


These figures can be misleading and can be easily “spun” according to tell vastly different stories. For example their release notes that new auto sales were down 4.1%, which sounds like a big decline. But that was 4.1% seasonally adjusted versus November and the┬ádetailed tables show that new car sales in December were up 8.9% versus the prior year. So that sounds like tremendous growth. So spin it how you would like, new car sales are either terrible or fantastic.

Used car sales were up 19% year over year and I suspect that has to do with used vehicles being bought for export to the U.S. to take advantage of the dollar exchange rate.

Liquor sales were up 3.5% year over year in December which is the lower than the 9% I mentioned (and questioned) on Tuesday so I am not sure what to believe.

Alberta retail sales were down 5.5% year over year which is another indication that Alberta is in a recession.

I grabbed a few more shares of Bank of America which is down since I recently rated it a Speculative Strong Buy. I like to show the courage of my convictions and it is likely (though not guaranteed) that Bank of America will be a good or very good investment at the recent price. There are fears now about bad loans.