December is traditionally a strong month, but as we begin we are getting:
1) more weak data from China, with PMI down to 50.3, the lowest reading since March. Many big material names like BHP Billiton were down big last week—about 10 percent—on concerns China's growth is slowing.
2) more weak data from Europe, with manufacturing contracting in Germany, France and Italy, the three largest countries. New orders fell at the fastest pace in 19 months. These markets have also held up on stimulus relief from the European Central Bank.
3) generally disappointing U.S. retail sales over Thanksgiving weekend. The National Retail Federation said total spending fell 11 percent, with the average shopper spending about 6 percent less than Thanksgiving weekend last year.