The year is ending with no miracle in sight for the retail sector -- except maybe for
In a lightly traded session on Friday, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
finished up 47.07, or 0.56%, to 8515.55, while the
rose 7.78, or 0.9% to 872.8. The
added 5.34, or 0.35%, to 1530.24.
Pete Najarian said today's trading was "thin," with "everyone on the side lines."
Joe Terranova said the significance behind GMAC Financial Services saying it's becoming a bank holding company is that "they are basically telling you they can no longer raise cash" and "can no longer sell bonds backed by auto loans."
Melissa Lee asked Najarian to comment on the volatility of the market, which fell to 43.38 today. Najarian said not to read too much into it because of the light volume.
Lee shifted the discussion to the retail sector and a report from Spending Pulse, a unit from MasterCard Worldwide, of a 2% to 4% drop in retail sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, with weakness showing up in the sales of electronics goods, apparel and luxury items.
Terranova said the takeway from that discouraging report is that consumers are going to spend on two things: food and medicine. Furthermore, he said there will be a rise in personal savings as people hunker down for the recession.
Lee asked the panel to comment on Amazon.com's "curious" press release that it was their "best Christmas ever." She said there were a lot of "black holes" in the report, with no mention of "margins" and "promotional activities."
Jeff Macke said the market treated the stock the way it should have been treated: it opened higher and then it was sell all day long to the close.
Dennis Gartman said even his wife noted there was no mention about margins or what was sold. "Even non-market people saw through it," he said.
Jon Najarian said the factors behind Amazon's higher shipment numbers may have more to do with tax savings, bad weather, comparison shopping and discounted prices.
Terranova said he would sell Amazon and buy
Najarian said he preferred three other retail names to invest in:
for its solid revenue growth;
for its ability to move merchandise; and
, for what could be strong sales in the first and second quarters of next year.
Pete Najarian shifted the conversation to
and its plans to sell its 3G iPhone for $197 at
Najarian said the iPhone will drive folks to Walmart outlets but the iPhone is not the big margin product for Apple. Rather it's the MacBook, but he said it's expensive and will be an issue for Apple going into 2009.
Lee moved on to the next trade of the day: oil being up 7% and breaking a nine-day losing streak. Terranova ignored a report today that the UAE will comply with OPEC's previous announced plans for a production cut. He said what really matters is a Jan. 19 summit in Kuwait in which the Arabs will have to decide what they want to do in the next OPEC meeting in March.
Gartman said crude oil continues to be a "bid for storage" and "that's not a hallmark of a bull market."
Terranova said gold, which was up $24 today, could be a bullish play in 2009.
Najarian mentioned briefly a lot of interest today in
which saw a lot of option activity. The company is in the midst of acquiring
for $1.6 billion.
Lee brought in William Fleckenstein, author of "Greenspan's Bubbles" and president of Fleckenstein Capital, to talk about trading prospects in the financial and technology stocks.
Fleckenstein said there was not much reason to own stocks in either sector, although he said there could be a turnaround in the tech later next year.
In the short term, he said, business in tech sector will be "shockingly bad," especially in the semiconductor industry, which is struggling with a surplus of inventory.
Moving on to the auto sector, Macke said he sees a trading opportunity in
, which recently said it's experiencing its "worst year in the company's history."
Gartman said there are trading opportunities for local and regional banks, which he thinks will lead the turnaround in the financial sector as opposed to
, which has to deal with toxic material in its balance sheets.
Gartman, who's been bearish on gold, liked the gain in the commodity today and says he's bullish on it. "That will shock a few people," he said, adding owning gold and banks will help investors to be "reasonably hedged going forward."
In the final trades, Macke was for Toyota; Terranova liked
; Gartman liked the banks; and Najarian said to "watch"
"'Fast Money'Portfolios of the Week" on Stockpickr every Thursday.