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Economic Update 05/06/13

UNEMPLOYMENT EDGES DOWN TO 7.5%

April brought a rebound in hiring. Employers added 165,000 jobs, and so the unemployment rate reached a four-year low. (The Labor Department also revised March’s job gains upward to 138,000.) Payrolls have now expanded by an average of 189,000 jobs a month during the last six months.

CONSUMER SPENDING, OUTLOOK IMPROVE

Household spending increased 0.2% in March, the Commerce Department noted – part of a broader 3.2% advance for the first quarter. The Conference Board’s April consumer confidence index soared 6.2 points to 69.1, far exceeding the 61.0 consensus forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg.

STRONG SIGNALS OF A HOUSING COMEBACK

Home equity is definitely being restored: the latest 20-city S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index (February) shows a 9.3% year-over-year increase, the largest annual gain recorded in six years. The National Association of Realtors reported a 1.5% March gain in its pending home sales index, with the yearly gain at 7.0%.

IS MANUFACTURING COOLING DOWN?

The Institute for Supply Management’s April factory index came in at 50.7 last week, the weakest reading in nine months and down from 0.6 from March. ISM’s April service sector index also declined 1.3 points off the March reading of 53.1.

S&P TOPS 1,600, FED REASSURES INVESTORS

Last week brought major gains for the Dow (+1.78% to 14,973.96), S&P 500 (+2.03% to 1,614.42) and NASDAQ (+3.03% to 3,378.63). On May 1, the Federal Reserve said it would keep buying $85 billion in bonds per month for the near future, noting that the pace of asset purchases could even increase if needed.

THIS WEEK: Tyson Foods, Sysco, Anadarko and First Solar report quarterly results Monday. Tuesday, the market awaits earnings from WholeFoods, Walt Disney, Trip Advisor, HSBC, DirecTV, Electronic Arts, Marathon Oil, Symantec, Live Nation, WebMD and Zillow. Wednesday, earnings are in from Liberty Interactive, Green Mountain Coffee, Activision Blizzard, AOL, Sodastream, Wendy’s, Toyota, Liberty Media, Groupon, Monster Beverage, NewsCorp, Tesla Motors and Transocean. Thursday brings a report on March wholesale inventories, the latest initial jobless claims figures, and quarterly results from Sony, Nvidia, Dish Network, Priceline.com and Dean Foods. On Friday, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at a Chicago banking conference and ArcelorMittal and GoldFields announce earnings.

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