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Market mixed on trade, retail data

A big jump in the trade deficit's size helped solidify the negative tone for the market this morning. In addition, August retail sales slumped a little more than expected due to soft auto sales. As a result, stocks started the day slightly lower.

The current account deficit widened to $166.2 billion for the second quarter, compared to a revised $147.2 billion shortfall in the year's first three months, the Commerce Department said. Economists were looking for the gap to widen to $161 billion.

Retail sales dropped 0.3% last month, with auto sales falling 1.9%. In July, retail rose 0.8%, according to revised figures. The August decline was a bit bigger than the 0.1% fall economists predicted. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.1%, in line with expectations.

The numbers show that retail sales are “in a clear cyclical down trend," Lakshman Achuthan, Economic Cycle Research Institute managing director, told CNBC's “Squawk Box."

The growth rate in sales has been slowing since March, and the persistent slump makes it harder to believe that the economy went through just a temporary soft patch in June and July, Achuthan said...