On the last trading day of the week, investors were greeted with some mixed economic data as earnings season is turning out to be better than expected.
U.S. retail sales for March came in stronger than forecast, notching a 1.6% gain when a Briefing.com consensus showed expectations of a 0.9% rise. Anything pointing to the health of the American consumer can be particularly important given the huge percentage of gross domestic product that is driven by consumer spending.
In other economic data, initial U.S. jobless claims hit their lowest level since 1969, coming in at 192,000 compared to a Briefing.com consensus forecast of 208,000.
The data add to a picture of a U.S. economy that, while not going gangbusters, is still showing signs of health. But in a globally connected economy, health in one place can end up being tamped down by weakness in other jurisdictions.
IHS Markit data showed manufacturing activity in Germany and France, Europe’s two largest economies, continued to contract. This may be feeding continued worries about the health of the global economy, which had eased a bit earlier in the week on a better-than-expected showing for Chinese gross domestic product. The euro has weakened versus the dollar, which is usually a good sign for commodities such as oil.