Retail sales rose by 0.6% in March as consumer spending rebounded from a soft start to he year—driven by motor-vehicle sales and strength among furniture and non-store retailers. Analysts tied the solid reading to a healthy job market and increased consumer take-home pay (due to the recent tax reform).
- Housing starts grew by 1.9% in March, on a pickup in multi-family home construction. However, economists said that instability in the single-family home segment could indicate a slowdown in the overall housing market, especially as builders face higher costs in the wake of recently-imposed lumber tariffs.
- Industrial production climbed by 0.5% in March. Utility production picked up 3.0% following a weather-related drop in the previous month; mining production gained 1.0%, supported by an increase in oil and natural-gas extraction. Capacity utilization, a ratio of realized-to-potential economic output, hit a three-year high.
- Oil prices jumped above $68 a barrel to their highest level in more than three years after U.S. crude inventories declined by more than expected; market participants also remained fearful of geopolitical tensions in critical oil-producing countries.
- The latest Federal Reserve Beige Book focused on tariff-impacted steel prices, along with small wage gains and a modest-to-moderate economic expansion that continues to support the case for two additional interest-rate increases this year.
- Initial jobless claims eased by 1,000 to 232,000 in the week ending April 14, as labor-market strength lingered near a 50-year high. The more-stable four-week moving average grew by 1,250 to 231,250. Continuing claims fell by 15,000 to 1.86 million in the week ending April 7 and hovered near a 45-year low.
- The Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators expanded by 0.3% in March, its sixth straight monthly increase, driven by widespread component strength. The reading, used by economists to gauge the health of the U.S. economy, pointed to ongoing vitality.
- Mortgage-purchase applications jumped by 6% in the week ending April 13, Supported by housing-market strength, even as mortgage rates remained near their highest level in more than four years. Refinancing activity (which can be sensitive to even small rate changes) advanced by 4% in the same week.
- Consumer prices in the eurozone rose by 1.0% in March, driven by increased service-sector costs; the year-over-year inflation rate was 1.3%, down from 1.4% in an earlier flash report.
- U.K. retail sales fell by a worse-than-expected 1.2% in March; gasoline sales and non-food store transactions weakened as shoppers limited their travel due to unseasonably harsh weather. China’s gross domestic product expanded by 1.4% in the first quarter and by 6.8% year over year, on improved consumer spending and demand for exports.
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