Headline Retail Sales Rebound From September Slide, But Ex-Autos Print Falls Short

Retail sales rose a better-than-expected 0.3% in October, underscoring the resiliency of the US consumer at a time when lackluster business investment and slumping CEO confidence suggest the trade war and political uncertainty together serve as a gale force headwind both to the economy and the aging bull market.

The decent headline number comes as something of a relief. Last month, data for September showed retail sales falling for the first time in six months, stoking fears that the load-bearing pillar of the MAGA economy was cracking. The September print was not revised.

All of that said, the ex-autos print was a gain of 0.2%, half of the expected 0.4% rise. The control group rose 0.3% October.

The data comes on the heels of tepid personal consumption numbers for September, when spending rose just 0.2% versus expectations for a 0.3% gain.

The advance read on third quarter GDP showed the consumer shouldering the burden again when it comes to sustaining the expansion.

Generally speaking, the beat on the headline and the miss on the ex-autos print are offsetting.

This isn’t enough to move the needle one way or another, and therefore won’t shake the confidence of the optimists but won’t win any “hearts and minds” among the pessimists either.


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