Discounters Rule Retail; Stocks' Uptrend Problem

The trend in retail continues, with discounters continuing to outperform department stores: Home Depot and Target beating, Saks on the light side.

Biggest problem for stocks is that we are once again on the verge of breaking the uptrend from the July lows.

Housing starts at 965,000 annual units was the slowest since 1991; building permits were well below expectations at 937,000. Remember, at the height of the market a couple of years ago, there were 2.2 MILLION permits issued. While this sounds like bad news, the truth is we need to see a string of really poor numbers like these if we have any hope of working off the high inventory levels.

It's tough to make excuses for the shockingly high PPI number: up 1.2 percent, twice the expectations, and up 0.7 percent on core (ex-food and energy), three times the expectation of a gain of 0.2 percent.

  • CNBC Video: Oil Heading to $160?!

Year over year, headline is now up 9.8 percent, the largest gain since June 1981.

Bears are trying the same trick they used with CPI: saying that with commodities down, this is a backward-looking number. Unfortunately, prices seem to be increasing right across the board, and corporations are clearly indicating that they plan to keep raising prices.

Questions? Comments?