Worries continue to plague both the retail and housing sectors and exchange traded funds (ETFs) as more numbers are released today that show signs of creeping inflation.

The Labor Department reported today that the consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.4% in January, say Brian Blackstone and Jeff Bater for the Wall Street Journal. The core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.3%. Both numbers exceeded Wall Street forecasts. Year-over-year, consumer prices rose 4.3%, the biggest increase since September 2005.

The government also said that housing starts showed a slight gain: 0.8%. That’s after falling 14.8% in December. Single-family starts and permits dropped to 16-year lows – not a good sign.

It’s believed that both numbers won’t deter the Federal Reserve from lowering interest rates when it meets again next month.

All the not-so-hot numbers are straining investors’ nerves, and retail- and housing-related ETFs could feel the pinch. But so far in trading today, most of them are up slightly. Will it stick?:

  • Retail HOLDRs (RTH), down 3.2% year-to-date
  • SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), down 3.5% year-to-date
  • iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), down 5.8% year-to-date
  • SPDR S&P Homebuilders (XHB), up 2.3% year-to-date
  • iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction (ITB), up 4.1% year-to-date
  • iShares Dow Jones US Real Estate (IYR), down 5.1% year-to-date

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.