Retail Sales Ex-Autos In Line With Expectations, As Empire Index Plunges: New Orders Drop Largest Since September 2001

October advance retail sales came in at 1.2%, higher than expected 0.7%, and higher than a previously revised 0.7%. The bulk of the beat came from auto sales. Stripping for those, yields retail sales of 0.4%, right in line with expectations. Furthermore, the ever critical General Merchandise stores category in its Non-seasonally adjusted form, dropped from 50,010 to 46,189, hardly the SA beat that was reported.

From the release:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for September, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $367.7 billion, an increase of 0.6 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, and 7.3 percent (±0.7%) above September 2009. Total sales for the July through September  2010 period were up 5.7 percent (±0.3%) from the same period a year ago. The July to August 2010 percent change was revised from +0.4 percent (±0.5%)* to +0.7 percent (±0.3%).

Elsewhere, the Empire Manufacturing Index was clobbered missing expectations by over 25 points, printing at -11.14, on expectations of 14, and a previous read of 15.73

From the horrendous release:

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that conditions deteriorated in November for New York State manufacturers. For the first time since mid-2009, the general business conditions index fell below zero, declining 27 points to -11.1. The new orders index  plummeted 37 points to -24.4, and the shipments index also fell below zero. The indexes for both prices paid and prices received  declined, with the latter falling into negative territory. The index for number of employees remained above zero but was well below its October level, and the average workweek index dropped to -13.0. Future indexes generally climbed, suggesting that conditions were expected to improve in the months ahead, although the capital spending and technology spending indexes inched lower.

On the negative General Business Conditions print:

The general business conditions index fell below zero for the first time since July of 2009, dropping a steep 27 points to -11.1—an indication that, on balance, conditions had worsened over the month. The percentage of respondents reporting that conditions had improved fell from 35 percent in October to just 17 percent in November, while the percentage reporting that conditions had worsened rose from 20 percent to 28 percent. The new orders index plummeted 37 points to -24.4, its sharpest drop since September 2001. Nearly 40 percent of respondents reported that orders were down. The shipments index fell 26 points to -6.1, and the unfilled orders  index declined 23 points to -24.7. The delivery time index, at -9.1, was little changed. The inventories index rose to zero after dropping into negative territory last month.

Charting the New Orders plunge:

In fact, every diffusion index fell, except... wait for it: inventories. The old inventory-restocking game continues. Look for margins to be clobbered soon to quite soon.

But who cares: POMO, and remember: aside from all the facts, the economy is absolutely improving!