3/12/2012 – theGrio and CNBC Market Update

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Last week there were quite a few economic reports for investors to sift through. The services sector grew in February at its fastest pace in a year. Consumer credit increased by nearly $18 billion in January, driven by an increase in student loans. But it was all about jobs.

The national unemployment rate remained at 8. 3 percent in February as 227,000 jobs were created. Business services and health care saw some of the biggest gains. African American unemployment rose to 14.1 percent, while black teen unemployment dropped sharply to 34.7 percent, but remains the highest of any group. In the week ahead, investors await reports on interest rates, small business and inflation.

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The Federal Reserve will meet soon to discuss the economy and interest rates. During their January meeting, the Fed left its key interest rate – which affects mortgage, credit card and student loan rates – unchanged and said the economy is expanding moderately despite the global slowdown.

We’ll check the pulse of small business with the February survey from the National Federation of Independent Business. Small business optimism improved to a 93 point 9 reading in January -a level not seen since December 2007 – as businesses report increased sales and plans to hire.

We’ll get a read on inflation with the February consumer price index report, which tracks price changes for food, clothing and energy. In January, prices rose two tenths of one percent fueled by higher gas prices.