This is the daily notebook of Mike Santoli, CNBC's senior markets commentator, with ideas about trends, stocks and market statistics. The tape remains firm, levitating toward the upper end of a tight range in place for a week and a half. The strong seasonal backdrop has remained in place though to date has mostly meant steadiness and not momentum, though late November brings that's often a tailwind, even within the positive fourth quarter. The S & P 500 has been in a mostly benign consolidation, doing just enough to hold most of the post-CPI-report bounce and for now riding a series of higher lows — albeit still below the downtrend line and short of the true proof point near 4,100. Retail-chain earnings on balance continue to be a mild relief, showing consumers are being choosy but not ceasing to spend what they're earning, and the companies girded for a leaner environment. Best Buy 's pop on a still-soft sales outlook shows how cheap and unloved some of the group's leading stocks have become, though understandably given how sellers of goods over-earned the prior couple of years. More broadly, the equal-weight consumer discretionary sector has clawed back some ground vs. consumer staples since the summer relative lows, as the soft-landing scenario has not quite been eliminated from investors' probability arrays. Working against that glimmer of daylight is the stark inversion of the Treasury yield curve, which in the most literal sense just means the Federal Reserve will hike more but then soon be done and inflation/growth will be softer as a result. But historically and interpretively, this setup is taken as a slowdown/recession warning — often a very early one. In the current episode, it surely reflects the unusually swift and severe pace of fed tightening and the market's struggle to sort out the lagged impact. The 1-year Treasury now yields a full percentage point more than the 10-year. Goldman Sachs is out with its periodic hedge-fund positioning survey, showing tactical equity players quite defensive, still. It also shows upside risk, as managers might be forced to chase, though other gauges suggest more a hopeful stance by retail (decent stock inflows recently). There's a way to tell the story of 2022 as a year of concentrated, productive payback and reset. The Fed went from zero to (by December) 4.5% in rates and might be nearly done; S & P 500 P/E from a rich 23x to a "fair" 17x, the average stock a good deal cheaper; the speculative tier of the markets have been flushed (no IPOs, no-profit tech crushed; crypto unwound) and the bond market has rebuilt the supply of "safe yield" to act as an income source and buffer for risk-taking elsewhere in a portfolio. It's a hopeful framing of the case, for sure. Skeptics will quickly note that the economic cycle doesn't adhere to a 12-month calendar script, so the "recession or no recession" call is truly paramount into next year. If "No," then a bottom could be in and the Fed's pause/pivot is probably a buy; if "Yes," then there is likely unfinished business on the downside for earnings and perhaps valuations. Market breadth is solid but not overwhelmingly so. Oil firmer, which is now not a negative from these levels. Big Tech laggy but not heavily for sale. VIX feeling the gravity of the range-bound index and approaching holiday, only a day and a half more of open US equity trading over the next five day.