November retail sales checked in at 0.7 percent higher, better than the 0.6 percent increase expected. Importantly, ex-auto sales were up 0.4 percent, better than the 0.2 percent gain expected--so this was a broad improvement, not just in the auto sector. Also: October was revised up, which should result in a upside revision in fourth quarter growth estimates, and further add to the December taper debate, as Adrian Miller at GMP Securities noted.
However, the small-cap Russell 2000 is 4 percent below its historic high and has broke below its 50-day moving average.
1) While Hilton is getting all the IPO attention today, Aramark might be worth a look as well. The Philadelphia-based food service company prices 36.25 million shares at $20, the low end of the price talk of $20-$23.
They're no strangers to the markets: this is the third time the company has gone public. It first went public in 1959, then went private and went public again in 2001, then was taken private again in a $6.3 billion leveraged buyout (LBO) in 2007 done by Thomas H. Lee, Warburg Pincus, CCMP Capital, and others.
One reason it may have priced toward the low end of the range: a high debt load (5.5 times fiscal year 2013 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization [EBITDA], according to Morningstar). They intend to pay down part of that debt load with the proceedings from the offering.
2) As for Hilton, pricing 117.6 million shares at $20, they're no strangers to the public markets either. They first listed on the NYSE in 1946 before being acquired by Blackstone in October, 2007. Blackstone Group will continue to own 750 million shares, about 76 percent of the company.
But will it pop? Most traders I talked to who looked at this felt the valuation was fairly full. Morningstar blunted stated "valuation for the IPO is not compelling."
Still, this is one of the big, global brand names. All the institutional fund managers will own it. And the float is limited.
The lodging business has done well this year. The Dow Jones Hotel Index is up about 32 percent this year, handily outperforming the S&P 500.
—By CNBC's Bob Pisani