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Americans Eating their Way Back to Fiscal Health?; Chinese Investor Behaves Oddly; Green Wave Lifts Markets

Americans Eating Their Way Back to Fiscal Health? (CNBC)

Americans spent some $45.9 billion on dining out in April of this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That total is a $200-million increase from the previous monthly high set in December of last year. Given the ongoing concern about the economy and whether or not government stimulus is actually pulling the United States out of its malaise, this figure came as a bolt out of the blue for some restaurateurs. Ryan Lowder, chef at one high-end Utah eatery, was quoted as saying, “Last month was a shock.” But here’s the thing, 49 percent of Americans surveyed said they were not going out to eat as much as they like. However, people who are going out seem prepared to spend more than ever before. These restaurant figures back up a recent Gallup Poll finding that only 41 percent of Americans are spending less money than before. So, does this situation mean the United States will eat (and spend) its way back to economic health?

When Not to Follow Insider Buying (YahooFinance)

One of the best signs for an impending share-price increase is when corporate officers or insiders load up on their own shares. Combine this buying with an increasing demand for a limited supply of the shares and you have the makings of a classic run-up, right? Not with shares of Fiat (F-IT), especially when the buyer is trying to single-handedly reduce the supply of one of the company’s most popular and expensive sports cars — the Maserati Quattroporte. Twice in the last two years, a wealthy Chinese “investor” has purchased models of this car (costing him around $270,000) and had them smashed with sledgehammers. One report claims it is his way of protesting poor customer service, but savvy investors also may recognize the classic traits of insider buying to push up company stocks. With Fiat’s share price barely moved during each incident, perhaps the wealthy Chinese businessman is merely the world’s worst inside buyer.

The Week Set to End on Green Wave (Bloomberg)

U.S. stock futures are up this morning, even before the figures are announced for the index of leading indicators. The index is expected to have climbed .2 percent in April, which seems to be enough to let U.S. markets finish the week in the green, despite some data falling short of forecasts and rumor that the Federal Reserve may begin to pull back on quantitative easing (QE). Asian markets certainly assumed the optimistic pose, with Japan’s Nikkei 225, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and Shanghai’s Composite all finishing the session up less than one percent. Europe’s also running with that idea, with England’s FTSE up .23 percent, Germany’s DAX ahead .15 percent and the STOXX 50 Index advancing .23 percent.

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