Markets finished near the UNCH mark Thursday overcoming modest afternoon losses. The Nasdaq stalled at the round 4700 mark but looks poised to record a fourth consecutive weekly advance. Heading into Friday the Nasdaq is up 1% and the S&P 500 by .4%. We have been getting a good read on the consumer via some retail earnings reports recently. The question is whether it is company specific as to why the stock rose or fell, or is it a sign of the overall economy gaining steam. We know wages are stagnant and not offsetting lower prices at the pump. Today WMT rose 4.7% to hit all time highs after reporting earnings. Is that a sign that consumers are stretching for bargains? KSS lost 3.2% and JCP 8.5% Thursday. JCP seems to be a perpetual mess like peers ANF which fell 16.6% last Friday after weak sales data. Other laggards like SALE which lost 29.6% on 11/4 after a prior disaster of 28.3% on 8/5. Other names are offering more encouraging signals. M rose 5.1% on Wednesday despite a dour call (below is our chart how it appeared in our Wednesday 10/22 Game Plan), FOSL gained 8.4% yesterday as well after a well received report. Promising developments from BBBY which rose 7.4% on 9/24 for its first earnings gain of 2014, or MELI which advanced 18.2% on Halloween after a 14.5% jump on 8/8 give confidence that maybe things are a little better than we think.

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