Early this morning, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and UBS Securities reported in a survey that chain-store sales for the week ended September 29 rose 2.7% from the year-ago period. On a week-over-week basis, sales were flat. Sales were unchanged over the last week with weather a potential help in the West, but a drag on sales in the rest of the nation, said Michael Niemira, chief economist for the ICSC. Overall, the month is shaping up on the soft side of recent monthly sales trends. The ICSC expects the monthly sales performance to increase by 2% to 2.5%.

While the rest of the market appears to be bouncing back from weakness in July and August, the Retailers HOLDRS Trust continues to struggle. The exchange-traded fund (ETF) is moving sideways between 97 and 103, hitting resistance at its 10-week and 20-week moving averages.

Meanwhile, options players are quite optimistic. Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio rests at 1.77, which is lower than 80% of the readings taken during the past 52 weeks.