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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The markets can't afford to lose the consumer, Jim Cramer told his "Mad Money" TV show viewers Wednesday. He spoke after Macy's (M) reported disappointing earnings, raising doubts the American consumer could continue to bolster stocks.
Cramer called Macy's a national barometer for the health of the consumer, so when sales are sluggish there it's only natural that stocks from Home Depot (HD) to Sherwin-Williams (SHW) and Whirlpool (WHR) would fall in sympathy.
The slump at Macy's may only be temporary, said Cramer, but given how many hurdles the consumer is facing, from rising payroll taxes and interest rates on mortgages to fears over Obamacare and higher gas prices, it's easy to see why the markets are spooked.There are still bright spots in the markets, though, mainly Europe, China and Japan, along with specific stocks such as Boeing (BA). But those may not be enough to keep stocks at their lofty levels, especially if more bad consumer news begins to emerge, said Cramer. Cramer said the Macy's news should cause investors to be more cautious as things may continue to worsen before they get better.