The week that was:
- Oct retail sales were +1.4% overall and ex autos +0.2%. Retail sales are increasingly of interest to markets as we move into Christmas shopping ( the politically correct reference is Holiday shopping).
- NY Empire State manufacturing data; the overall index declined to 23.51 from 34.57 in October.
- Housing starts crumbled like a fresh saltine, down 10.6%, permits -4.6%.
- With mortgage rates well below 5.00% (with a fee) purchases were down and re-finances were lower according to the MBA data released on Wednesday.
- Mortgage prices and mortgage rates were literally unchanged this week.
Last week Bernanke's speech Monday to the NY Economics Club he reiterated he would keep rates low; essentially admitted he has little insight as to how the economic recovery will unfold and remarked "The best thing we can say about the labor market right now is that it may be getting worse more slowly." In layman speak, he isn't sure the unemployment situation is at its bottom.