There were several data points for investors to digest last week. The economy grew by 2.5 percent during the first quarter, much slower than expected. Existing home sales fell .6 percent in March. However prices rose, and sales of new homes increased by 1.5 percent in March with strong gains in the northeast and the south. In the week ahead we expect data on jobs, home prices and wages.
Where are the jobs? We’ll find out with the April employment report. In March the unemployment rate fell slightly to 7.6 percent as 88,000 jobs were created. Business services and health care added the most jobs. African-American unemployment fell to 13.3 percent, while black teen unemployment dropped 2 points to 33.8 percent, but remains by far, the highest of any group.
We’ll get a read on housing with the February case-shiller home price index report, which tracks price changes in 20 metro areas. In January home prices rose 8.1 percent compared to a year ago, its biggest increase since 2006, led by phoenix which posted a 23 percent gain.
And we’ll check on consumer finances with the March personal income report. In February wages rose 2.6 percent compared to a year ago, much more than expected even though payroll taxes are higher, while consumer spending rose 3.3 percent.