Economic data was top of mind for investors last week. The economy grew by 2.4 percent during the 4th quarter, much slower than expected, according to the latest GDP report. Home prices dipped in December, but increased by 13.4 percent in 2013, its largest gain in 8 years. New home sales surged in January, up nearly 10 percent, led by sales in the northeast. In the week ahead, we’ll get data on jobs, consumer credit and auto sales.
Where are the jobs? We’ll find out with the February unemployment report. In January the unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent as 113,000 jobs were created. With construction and manufacturing adding the most jobs, African American unemployment rose to 12.1 percent while black teen unemployment increased to 38 percent, remaining the highest of any group.
We’ll check on consumer finances with the January Consumer Credit Report, which tracks credit card, auto and student loans. In December consumer credit increased by nearly $19B, the biggest gain in 10 months, which was led by a sharp increase in credit card use.
We’ll also get the February auto sales report. In January the top three US automakers, Ford, GM and Toyota saw sales decline by 7 percent or more citing bad weather. Meanwhile, Chrysler posted an 8 percent percent gain.