Following several months of disappointing retail sales, and two months of missed expectations, October finally saw the best beat in headline expectations since April, with retail sales rising 0.4% vs 0.1% expected. However, as has been the case in all of 2013, the bulk of this beat was driven by car sales, which rose by 1.3%, leaving sales ex autos beating by the tiniest of fractions at 0.2% vs 0.1% expected, and ex autos and gas +0.3%, vs 0.2% expected.
Looking at the components, following month after month of clothing store sales misses, this category finally posted a modest 1.4% rebound, together with an increase in Electronic and Sporting goods sales, amounting to 1.4% and 1.6%, respecitvely. This was offset by the traditionally strong Building materials sales which declined by 1.9% in October.
Unlike the exuberant inflation-spree that government-provided CPI showed during the Fed's QE2, since the start of QE3, inflation data (according to the never-manipulated government providers) has been on a downtrend. The latest print - at expectations of 1.0% year-over-year - is the lowest CPI since October 2009. What is perhaps more notable is the drop into deflation on MoM basis (CPI -0.1% MoM vs +0.1% exp). Of course, the market's reaction is exuberance as this clearly gives the Fed a green light to provide more life-giving liquidity to enable nominal stock prices to rise. However, a glance at the chart below might just remind traders (and the Fed) of the Einsteinian foolishness that expectation.