Retail Sales Plunged Last Month

The Census Bureau reported this morning that Retail Sales in February fell 3% versus an estimate of a 0.5% dip. January’s growth of 5.3% was revised to 7.6%. Without Autos, February sales fell 2.7% against an expectation of a 0.1% gain. January’s 5.9% boost in this measure was revised to 8.3%. The Control Group, without food services, gas stations, autos, and building materials fell 3.5% in the face of a 0.6% expected decline while January’s 6% growth was revised to 8.7%.

Investors also learned this morning from the BLS that Import Prices grew by 1.3% last month and that was slightly higher than the 1% that was expected. Year-over-year, Import Prices grew 3% against an expectation of 2.6%. Export Prices rose 1.6% versus an expectation of 1%. Year-over-year, Export Prices grew by 5.2% versus the forecast of 4.4%.

The FOMC begins its two-day meeting today and the Treasury will be selling $24B Twenty-Year bonds this afternoon. Capacity Utilization and Industrial Production for February will be announced later this morning.

In early trading, Treasury prices are little changed with the Ten-Year yielding 1.60% and the Long Bond bringing 2.35%. The Two-Year still languishes at 15 basis points. Crude oil is off about a dollar to $64.43 while gold is little changed at $1,732.