A survey released this morning by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and UBS Securities revealed a 2.7% increase in chain-store sales for the week ended October 27. It's a 0.1% week-over-week gain for chain-store sales, which last week fell by 1.5%. The ICSC predicts that October sales will edge up 2% on a year-over-year basis.

Although it is always difficult to assess what the most important drivers of sales are in any given week, Halloween is the likely cause for the latest week's lift since the warm weather, fires in California and higher gasoline prices were clearly negative factors, said Mike Niemira, chief economist at ICSC.

Checking in on the broader retail sector, the Retail HOLDRS Trust closed yesterday on a gain of 0.5%. The exchange-traded fund remains capped by its 20-day moving average, which it has not closed above since October 12. The Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio for RTH rests at 1.24, just 3 percentage points away from an annual low.