Retail Sales Surprise to the Upside: What You Need to Know

The big macro can cause big moves in the market. What does today's headline macro news mean for your portfolio?

What's happening: U.S. retail sales rose 1.1% in September, easily topping analysts' expectation of a 0.7% gain. Excluding autos, sales were up 0.6%, which was better than the 0.3% that was anticipated.

In plain English, please: As we've heard to exhaustion, our economy is largely a consumer-based economy. While we don't want to discount the importance of business spending and investment, when consumers get dour and stop opening their wallets, it can have a big impact on economic growth. Though one month's data isn't enough to assume that consumers are suddenly happy-go-lucky, the stronger-than-expected growth is certainly a good sign.

Stocks to watch: Stronger consumer spending is a particularly good sign for businesses that cater to consumers. This could be a really good thing if it's a sign of what's to come for the Christmas season. Bloomberg highlighted today that both Macy's (NYS: M) and Kohl's (NYS: KSS) have boosted hiring plans for the holiday season above last year's levels. If consumer spending continues to show life though, it could be good for everyone from (NAS: AMZN) to Procter & Gamble (NYS: PG) and Apple (NAS: AAPL) .

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