Last week investors had quite a few economic reports to digest. Manufacturing and service sector growth slowed down in April. New claims for jobless benefits jumped by 43,000 to levels not seen since last August.
Speaking of jobs, in April the unemployment rate increased to 9 percent as more people looked for jobs. 268,000 private sector jobs were created with gains in business services, retail and health care. African American unemployment rose to 16.1 percent while black teen unemployment declined to 41.6 percent, but remains the highest of any group.
In the week ahead, investors await reports on small businesses, consumer sentiment and inflation. We’ll get a read on small businesses with the April report from the NFIB. In March, small business optimism fell 2.6 points to a 91.9 reading as business owners reported being worried about the economy, however they remained positive on hiring.
We’ll check the pulse of consumers with the May consumer sentiment report. In April, sentiment rose to a 69.8 reading – despite consumers complaining of higher gas prices. Sentiment is a gauge of consumer spending.
Speaking of spending, in inflation a concern? We’ll find out with the April consumer price index report which tracks price changes for food, clothing, and energy. In March, prices rose a half of one percent driven by higher food and gas prices.