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By Jason Stipp and Jeremy Glaser | 08-31-2012 07:00 AM

Back to Business

As summer wanes, the housing, retail, and policy sectors prepare to get back to work.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar and welcome to The Friday Five.

As summer wanes, we saw several signs of folks getting back to business this week. Here to offer the details is Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: Jason, glad to be back.

Stipp: So, what do you have for The Friday Five this week?

Glaser: Well, this week we're going to talk about retail same-store sales, the Republican convention, housing, Barclays, and finally, confidence in the eurozone.

Stipp: So, students are gearing up to get back to business by going back to school. We saw some evidence of that in the retail sales report.

Glaser: One of the things that had been a little bit perplexing about sales that we'd seen so far is that we haven't seen a big boost for back-to-school yet. It seemed like parents were being very cautious and teenagers were being cautious about when they were going to spend that dollar, when they were going to get all of their shopping done before classes started.

But in those August numbers, I think, we really started to see a sign that people were in fact going to go back and do the shopping. They weren't just going to forget it altogether or try to find discounts maybe in a few weeks in hopes that prices would come down.

Now, granted, these numbers only represent just a handful of retailers. Some of the larger retailers out there, like Wal-Mart, don't report this, so you can't extrapolate too much, but I think it certainly gives you a window into consumer behavior, and it seems like people are not running scared. We saw great numbers from Target, we saw great numbers from Macy's, from Nordstrom, from some of the teen retailers. And really across the board there was pretty good strength, which I think bodes well for consumers.

Stipp: A presidential election is on tap for this fall. In preparation for that, both sides--Democrats and Republicans--are heating up the rhetoric about how to get the country back to business, get the economy back on track for higher growth. As investors, though, how should we look at all this rhetoric and think about that in terms of our portfolios. Any tips?

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