Stocks are trying to bounce after a multi-day sell-off but investors are having a hard time digesting lackluster same-store sales data and another disappointing weekly jobless claims report. Commodities are mostly higher thanks to weakness in the U.S. dollar but crude oil seems to be the exception with another decline this morning.

Asian markets were mixed. The Japanese NIKKEI fell 1.3% marking its 7th loss in a row and falling to new seven-week lows. Yet the Chinese Shanghai index rose 1.3% and the Hong Kong Hang Seng index gained 0.39% following extremely strong auto sales in China. Reuters is reporting that there were 874,000 cars sold in June, above the 829,000 sold in May. June's volume is more than 48% higher than a year ago.

European stocks managed a little oversold bounce. The region was seeing decent gains early this afternoon but stocks trimmed their gains when the U.S. markets opened. The Bank of England announced that they were leaving interest rates unchanged at 0.5% for the fourth month in a row. The English FTSE index gained 0.4%. The French CAC-40 rose 0.5% and the German DAX rallied 1.2%.

This Thursday brought the monthly same-store sales data for many U.S. retailers. Overall the trend was down. The International Council of Shopping Centers said comparable chain store sales plunged 5.1% in June versus a year ago. The markets shouldn't be surprised since soaring foreclosure rates, plunging consumer credit lines, and 25-year highs in unemployment do not instill confidence in the consumer. With unemployment expected to rise well into 2010 the retailers have a tough road ahead of them. Today's report doesn't bode well for the important back-to-school shopping season right around the corner.

      June Same-Store    Wall Street's
Company       Sales Growth vs. Estimate
Aeropostale (ARO)   +12.0%     +10.0%
T.J.Maxx (TJX)       +4.0%      -0.6%
The Buckle Inc (BKE) +9.6%     +12.0%
Saks Inc. (SKS)      -4.4%     -11.8%
Costco (COST)        -6.0%      -6.0%
Target (TGT)         -6.2%      -5.6%
J.C.Penney (JCP)     -8.2%      -9.3%
Gap Inc. (GPS)      -10.0%      -8.6%
Wet Seal (WTSLA)    -11.1%      -9.1%
Limited Brands (LTD)-12.0%      -7.9%
Dillard's (DDS)     -14.0%     -10.0%
Neiman Marcus       -20.8%       ---
Abercrombie (ANF)   -32.0%     -26.6% 

Retail titan Wal-Mart (WMT) is missing from the list because the company no longer reports monthly same-store sales data. Meanwhile the RLX retail index is up 0.19% and off its best levels of the day.

The weekly initial jobless claims were making headlines today. Analysts were expecting a small improvement to 605,000 new claims but the Labor Department said claims fell to 565,000. Is this a sign things are improving? Not really. The data was skewed by early plant closures in the automobile industry. The number of workers filing for continuing claims soared by 159,000 to a new record high of 6.88 million. In other economic news the Commerce Department said wholesale business inventories marked their ninth monthly loss in a row with a 0.8% decline in May. Adding to the negative trend was April's number revised lower to -1.3%.

Crude oil continues to sink. The front month futures traded under $60.00 a barrel and sank for the 7th day in a row. Normally when the U.S. dollar shows weakness, like today, commodities are higher. Gold is up. Copper prices are up about 3%. Both the DBA and DBC commodity ETFs are up on the session. The GDX gold miners ETF is up 2.6%. Oil and oil service stocks are ignoring the weakness in oil and producing a strong oversold bounce with the OIX up 1.7% and the OSX up 2.3%.

Currently the S&P 500 index is up 0.5% near 885 and hovering near its simple 200-dma. The NASDAQ composite is up 0.6% and trying to breakout past the 1760 level. The Dow Industrials are up 0.1% and churning sideways under the 8200 level. The small cap Russell 2000 is up 0.5% and drifting sideways just above its 200-dma.

Let's take a quick look at charts for the major averages:

Chart of the S&P 500:

Chart of the NASDAQ:

Chart of the Dow Industrials:

Chart of the Russell 2000 index:

Looking for movement on the OptionInvestor.com play list I see that DGX is under performing with a 1.7% decline. ESRX is bouncing from a test of the $65.00 level. EW has broken support at $65.00 and hit our stop loss. The weakness in the dollar is lifting the FXE, which is back above the $140.00 level. Scanning the put plays I see that AGU is bouncing back toward the $38.00 level. CLB is up 1.6%, which could be a confirmation of yesterday's bullish reversal pattern. ESI has broken down to new lows and hit our trigger to buy puts at $88.99. Not surprisingly FCX is bouncing and we're looking for resistance in the $49-50 zone. It is interesting to see Sears (SHLD) not participating in the retail sector's bounce. After hitting our target yesterday shares of WYNN are bouncing sharply with a 7% gain.