Retail Sales hit the tape up .6% this morning, well above expectations on the best results since March 2010.  The ex-autos component was also on the plus side, jumping .4%.  A rebound in auto sales of 1.6% did the trick.  Inflation data in the form of CPI (inflation at the consumer level) came in up just .1% with the core index (ex-food and energy) at unchanged.  The numbers are quite tame and show us that inflation may be present at the wholesale level (PPI yesterday plus .4%) but is not being passed through to the consumer (CPI plus .1%).

The New York Fed (Empire State) Manufacturing report was also released, jumping 12 points to 15.7.  Both new shipments and orders improved at the fastest pace since June.  Overall, the factory sector in NY seems to be on the mend.

Last but not least, we got a look at the University of Michigan Sentiment Survey which declined from 68.2 to 67.9.  Current conditions did the damage, falling 5.4 points.  Future expectations did a little better, up 4 points for the month.  Big Ben, printing press supervisor for the Federal Reserve was speaking in bean town this morning.  He all but assured the market of QE2 coming with details most likely presented at their November 2nd/3rd meeting.

The 10 year note, 30 year bond, and mortgage backs have been taking a beating.  The note is currently of 18/32’s.  Mortgage backs continue to slide, now off 7/32’s.  Stocks are a mixed bag and no help to bonds.  Dow off 46 points, Naz up 21 points on Google’s earnings.  That stock is up 58 bucks!

From our perspective, the market has fully priced in QE2 and has shifted the focus to a weak dollar and indigestion from 66 billion of auction paper that is now underwater.  Call the market neutral/bearish with good support nearby.  As we have preached all week, defense is your friend, Austin mortgage borrowers, and the exclusive float down option from Max Leaman is a no brainer.  We’ll try to wrap it up later today.