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A Romney Bounce?

A Romney bounce? The consensus is that Governor Romney did wellin the debates last night; while Europe is meandering on either side of positive or negative, U.S. stocks are higher.

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during the Presidential Debate at the University of Denver on October 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during the Presidential Debate at the University of Denver on October 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.

This may be because there has been a long-held belief that a Romney win might be better for stocks.

One worry for investors: healthcare stocks. Many have made a "reform-on" bet in the last few weeks under the assumption that President Obama was the odds-on favorite. The Healthcare Select SPDR , the ETF for the S&P Healthcare Sector, is up about 5 percent in the last month (around the end of August, going into the Democratic convention) and closed yesterday at an historic high.

But all this betting on healthcare reform and so-called Obamacare may be a little riskier today. Interestingly, hospital giant HCA saw its options trading jump to about 18 times average volume on a pair of bearish trades, betting that the stock would fall between $28 and $32 by the end of October. This was done before the debate.

Bottom line: healthcare stocks likely weaker today. There are already concerns about Medicare rate cuts, but the elections are now a new flashpoint.

Elsewhere:

1) September Retail Sales: not as great as August, but still not shabby. Up 3.9 percent year over year, according to RetailMetrics. This month, 55 percent of those reporting beat, a little below the historic norm.

Apparel was strong on back to school; off-price (TJX , Ross Stores ) did well.

Department stores a little soft: Macy's a bit below expectations, but they had a tough comp, Nordstrom also a little light, and Kohls had a negative comp, down 2.7 percent vs. expectations of a modest 0.1 percent gain.

Another retailer lost: Target announced it would stop reporting monthly sales next year, claiming it would allow them to have a "longer-term focus." Saks and JC Penney also announced they would stop monthly reports this year.

This is getting ridiculous. We are now down to only 19 retailers reporting monthly numbers. That's 19 out of about 120 publicly traded retailers. About 15 percent of the total. Getting hard to call these results a trend indicator any more.

2) Little market movement on ECB head Mario Draghi press conference: a) rates unchanged, 2) Draghi says inflation will be above 2 percent in 2012 and below that in 2013, and 3) he reiterates governments must act: "(It is) essential that governments continue to implement the necessary steps to reduce both fiscal and structural imbalances and proceed with financial sector restructuring measures.''

—By CNBC’s Bob Pisani

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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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