There were several economic reports for investors to sift through last week. The manufacturing sector posted strong growth in March as companies continued to hire, while growth in the service sector slowed a bit. Automakers posted strong gains in March with Chrysler posting a 34 percent sales increase
New claims for jobless benefits fell by 6,000 to 357,000 — its lowest level in 4 years.
In the week ahead, we kick off the earnings season with reports from Alcoa, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo. Investors also await data on small businesses, inflation and consumer sentiment.
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We’ll check the pulse of small business with the March survey from the National Federation of Independent Business. In February, small business optimism improved to a 94.3 reading —its highest reading in a year — as businesses plan to rebuild their inventories and expect higher sales.
The Consumer Price Index report —which tracks price changes for food, clothing and energy—-showed that in February prices rose .4 percent — the highest increase in 10 months — fueled by higher gas prices.
Are you feeling better about the economy? We’ll find out with the preliminary Consumer Sentiment report for April. In March, sentiment rose to a to a 76.2 reading —the highest in over a year — as consumers’ outlook on jobs and wages improved.