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The Fed's ready to hike | Zara's owner had a weird year |

Hi Reader, here's what you need to know for March 17th in 3:07 minutes.

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Today's big stories

  1. US retail sales slowed last month and the Federal Reserve announced a rate hike
  2. Our analyst has found three dips that you might want to buy, depending on which type of investor you are – Read Now
  3. Zara's owner Inditex reported mixed results

Tight Squeeze

Tight Squeeze

What’s Going On Here?

Data out on Wednesday showed that US retail sales rose by less than expected last month, but just don’t remind Americans how much they spent at the pump…

What Does This Mean?

Retail sales in the US rose by a worse-than-expected 0.3% in February from the month before, a massive drop from January’s 4.9% uptick. And while sales in bars and restaurants were up, the real bumper growth came from a 5.3% increase in gas sales – partly down to folk paying higher prices at the pump. In fact, if you strip out those mighty gas station sales, then total retail sales were actually down 0.2%. After all, sales in 6 of the 13 retail categories fell last month: online shopping was down sharply, and sales at grocery and electrical stores dropped too.

Why Should I Care?

For markets: Hikes are like buses...
Those slow sales figures might signal that Americans are tightening their purse strings as prices rise. That, then, might be why the Federal Reserve (the Fed) raised interest rates by 0.25% on Wednesday, which should help cool down 40-year high inflation. And while it’s the central bank’s first rate hike since 2018, there might not be long to wait until the next one: the Fed said it’s likely to hike rates another six times this year (tweet this).

The bigger picture: The worst is yet to come.
Households will really feel the pinch from those rate hikes, especially since inflation is also set to rise following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And if consumer spending – which makes up over two-thirds of the US economy – dips, economic growth could take a hit too. That might be why a survey out this week shows that economists predict there’s now a 33% chance of a recession in the next twelve months – up 10% from last month.

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Analyst Take

You Can Pick And Choose Your Dip, So Here’s Three You Might Like

You Can Pick And Choose Your Dip, So Here’s Three You Might Like
Photo of Stéphane Renevier

Stéphane Renevier, Analyst

What’s Going On Here?

The macro environment is as uncertain as ever, so – rather than buying everything indiscriminately – investors should tread very carefully.

But higher volatility also creates opportunities, ones like the three dips that Stéphane’s just found.

One is opportunistic and could lead to handsome returns if markets stabilize.

The second takes advantage of a record level of income, and while it’s not exactly sexy itself, it could lead to some very good-looking returns.

The third one is for the more cautious investors, and it’s likely to outperform the broader market even if the environment gets worse.

So that’s today’s Insight: the three trades that are too cheap to ignore.

Read or listen to the Insight here

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Lockdown Chic

Lockdown Chic

What’s Going On Here?

Inditex reported mixed results on Wednesday, but at least shoppers flocked to the world’s biggest clothing retailer no matter if they were working from home or hitting the town.

What Does This Mean?

Inditex managed to reopen most of its roughly 7,000 stores last year, as countries around the world let their eager shoppers roam free. But then Omicron cropped up, bringing about new restrictions that the Spanish retailer – owner of Zara, Bershka, and Massimo Dutti – reckons cost it around $440 million in profit last quarter alone.

Luckily, Inditex had a year of solid sales to fall back on: locked-down shoppers spent so much that online sales made up over a quarter of the brand’s total sales in 2021. And overall, the retailer boosted sales by 36% last year from the one before, bringing them back to pre-pandemic levels and almost tripling its profit too.

Why Should I Care?

For markets: More issues than Vogue.
Analysts seem fussier than even the most glamorous of fashionistas: Inditex’s bumper yearly growth still came in below their expectations. They won’t like what’s coming up, either: Inditex closed its Russian stores earlier this month after the country invaded Ukraine, which doesn’t bode well for business. After all, it has more stores there than in any country besides Spain, and Russian sales make up nearly 10% of the retailer’s operating profit. Throw in that rising Covid cases are threatening its business in China too, and investors sent Inditex’s shares down after the news – leaving them down more than 25% over the past year.

Zooming out: Now that’s a trend.
Inditex’s biggest rival also gave a results update this week: H&M reported its sales were up 23% last quarter from the same time the year before. But just like Inditex, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer might have trouble up ahead: analysts at Royal Bank of Canada cut their 2022 profit estimates for the retailer by 10%, blaming the current and potential impact of war in Europe on its sales.

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💬 Quote of the day

“Be an amateur. Not everything you do has to be good, especially at first.”

– Ann Handley (an American author and keynote speaker)
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CRYPTO PULSE, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FABRIIK

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🎯 On Our Radar

  1. Spot the difference. Electric cars versus flamingos.
  2. If it’s good enough for McDonald’s. The US franchise market is worth $787 billion, and you can invest in the very best from as little as $500.*
  3. Hot girl pie. Megan Thee Stallion just launched her latest big food collaboration.
  4. Sharing a Netflix account is the key to any successful relationship. That might come to an end soon, though.
  5. This eleven-course tasting menu is getting a lot of press. Maybe because it’s made by KFC

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🙋‍♀️ How Female Investors Can Learn About Crypto: 5pm UK time, March 17th
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💥 The Endless Potential Of Equity Tokenization: 5pm UK time, March 21st
🚀 How To Invest In The Metaverse: 1pm UK time, March 22nd
👟 How To Dip A Toe Into Sneaker Investing: 5pm UK time, March 22nd
⛽️ How NFT Gas Fees Work: 5pm UK time, March 23rd
🐻 How To Survive A Bear Market Investing In Crypto: 1pm UK time, March 24th
🍔 Investing In Francises: 6pm UK time, March 24th
☔️ Invest Smarter By Understanding The Market Seasons: 4pm UK time, March 25th
👑 How To Invest In Tokenized Gold: 1pm UK time, March 28th
☘️ How To Pick The Best ESG Stocks: 6pm UK time, March 28th
👩‍🎨 The Telltale Sign Of A Promising NFT: 5pm UK time, March 29th
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💰 How Much Do Your Trades Really Cost?: 5pm UK time, March 31st
🛢 What Investors Need To Know About Russian Oil: 6pm UK time, March 31st
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