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Probably the most closely watched economy in the world is the US market, where retail sales (excluding automobiles) continued to gain strength, picking up another .4 percentage point after a .1% gain the previous month. However, uncertainties over debt-ceiling negotiations caused a slump in the consumer confidence index, falling to 71.2 in October from 80.2 in September.

The Chinese economy continues to be a primary factor in the performance of iron ore, coal and other raw materials. A slow-down in China’s steel markets has created a surplus of iron ore inventories at China’s major ports. Steel PMI in October was down 1.7 points from September’s index, to 47.5, below the 50 point threshold, confirming a weakening steel industry.

The Japanese market is strengthening. Retail sales in September increased 3.1%. Industrial output in September was 1.5% higher than in August, which while a lower than anticipated gain, still points to a sustained economic recovery.