Investors had to parse fed, housing and jobs data last week. Minutes from the fed meeting shows the fed ready to step in with stimulus if economic growth slows. Housing was a bright spot as existing home sales rose 2.3 percent in July and new home sales increased by 3.6 percent, posting its best numbers in two years. New claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly by 4,000 to 372,000, highlighting the fragile jobs recovery. In the week ahead, investors await a big speech by FED chairman Ben Bernanke as well as data on GDP, home prices and personal income.
We’ll gain insight on the economy with an updated estimate of second quarter GDP, which looks at all the goods and services produced from April thru June. The initial estimate says the economy grew by only 1.5 percent as consumer spending slowed.
We’ll get a read on housing with the June case-shiller home price index report. In May home prices rose nearly 1% marking four months of gains. The spring and summer are traditionally the strongest buying seasons.
We’ll check the pulse of consumer spending and finances with the July personal income report. In June the data was mixed as consumer wages increased by point 5 %, but spending was flat as gas prices declined.