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U.S. STOCK INDEXES

GENERAL STOCK MARKET COMMENT: The U.S. stock indexes closed weaker today. An important U.S. economic report today came in weaker-than-expected. The September U.S. retail sales report showed a decline of 0.3%--the first contraction in months. Forecasts were calling for a gain of 0.2% from August. This report falls squarely into the camp of the U.S. monetary policy doves who want to see further lowering of U.S. interest rates. The U.S. dollar index sold off and hit a four-week low today, due in part to the downbeat retail sales report. Asian and European stock markets were mixed but mostly weaker overnight. Hopes for a U.S.-China trade deal, called Phase 1, are somewhat dimming at mid- week, along with investor and trader risk appetites, following last week's meetings between the world's two largest economies. No deal was signed last week and specifics of the Phase 1 agreement are missing. In overnight news, the Euro zone consumer price index for September was up 0.2% from August and up 0.8%, year-on- year. Those numbers were about in line with market expectations and continue to show major world economies not battling inflation, but instead battling deflation. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday released a report that forecast global economic growth at 3% in 2019, down from a 3.2% growth rate forecast by the IMF in July. The IMF blamed global trade disputes for the slowing economic growth worldwide. A feature in the markets this week is the strong rally in the British pound, which hit a four-month high Tuesday on ideas of a Brexit deal forthcoming, to avoid a no-deal Brexit. However, no formal agreement has been reached yet between the U.K. and the European Union.