The Commerce Department's October retail sales figures showed a decrease of 0.2 percent — although, when weak auto sales were excluded, the number was up 0.4 percent. Analysts who have been tracking upbeat weekly numbers from the retail sector throughout October were looking for ex-auto sales to increase by 0.3 percent for the month, compared to a 0.2 percent rise in September.
Meanwhile, producer prices for finished goods edged up by 0.1 percent in October, according to the Labor Department. The core PPI, which sets aside the volatile food and energy sectors, remained steady. That's a sharp change from a month ago, when the markets were jolted by an unexpected 0.5 percent gain in the September PPI, along with a core price increase of 0.4 percent. Economists attributed the September numbers to unusual seasonal factors.