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Retail sales better than expected

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December retail fell just 0.1% as cheaper gasoline sales, soft demand for sporting goods and home improvement products held sales in check last month. Excluding auto sales, retail sales fell 0.1%. Today's total retail sales number was better than the 1.4% decline economists were expecting, while the ex-auto sales number was inline with the forecasted 0.1% decline.

Treasuries find selling and stock futures rise

This morning's dose of economic data has the Treasury bond market finding some sellers and YIELDS across the major maturities are all rising. After trading at a new 52-week YIELD low yesterday, the 13-week YIELD ($IRX.X) is rising to 1.55% and the 5-year YIELD ($FVX.X) is bouncing higher this morning to 4.14%, but still below it upward trending 50-day moving average.

Stock futures have added to early morning gains as S&P futures (sp02h) trade higher by 3.5 points at 1,143. NASDAQ futures (nd02h) are posting gains of 7.5 points at 1,616, while Dow futures (dj02h) are higher by 35 points at 9,930.

Plethora of earnings

Several companies report earnings today and we're getting a good dose before this morning's bell. Inline earnings from AmSouth Bancorp (NYSE:ASO), Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCH), Fifth Third (NASDAQ:FITB), MSC Industrial (NYSE:MSM), Parametric Tech (NASDAQ:PMTC), Precision Castparts (NYSE:PCP).

Better than expected earnings from Black Box (NASDAQ:BBOX), Check Point Software (NASDAQ:CHKP), Forest Labs (NYSE:FRX), Tyco Intl. (NYSE:TYC) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC).

There are still some companies that are supposed to report before the bell that haven't like Hughes Electronics (NYSE:GMH) and Rowan Companies (NYSE:RDC), but most earnings have been inline or slightly better than estimates.

During market hours we should get earnings from Mellon Bank (NYSE:MEL) and US Bancorp (NYSE:USB).

Jeff Bailey
Senior Market Technician
Option Investor

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