With yesterday's release of CPI data for March, we can now calculate Real Retail Sales. As the adjacent chart shows, this indicator has recovered from its December-January slump and has now hit a record high. The real series was up 0.94% in March and 2.21% year-over-year.
The latest Gallup survey on investment preferences in the U.S. puts real estate ahead of gold and stocks for the first time in at least a few years in yet another example of how most people (at least in the U.S.) simply follow established trends.
Cassandras warn that the foreign appetite for US debt is satiated and wonder who is going to buy US Treasuries when the Federal Reserve stops. Not only are US officials not concerned about this, but the Department of Treasury continues its campaign to discourage foreign central banks from buying so many Treasuries.
The Commerce Department reported(.pdf) that U.S. housing starts rose 2.8 percent last month, from an upwardly revised seasonally adjusted annual rate of 920,000 in February to 946,000 in April, however, this was below the consensus estimate of 955,000 that was expected, at least in part, due to better weather in the spring after a severe winter.
CPI and the PCE Price Index and Fed Policy
The BLS's Consumer Price Index for March shows core inflation below the Federal Reserve's 2% long-term target range at 1.66%. The Core PCE price index at the end of the February (the most recent data), is significantly lower at 1.10%. The Fed is on record as preferring Core PCE as its inflation gauge.
Positive looking economic data out of China and the U.S. should help the market sustain the favorable momentum from the last two sessions. Today’s housing starts numbers were a tad light, but they nevertheless reconfirm that we are coming out of the weather-induced slump.
Earnings season is upon us. Expect a lot of jumping around this quarter as companies miss or exceed estimates. Although earnings are important, they are also fickle and easily manipulated, which is why it’s always good to remind ourselves, as shareholders, of some of the long-term time-tested ways in which companies deliver value not merely over one quarter to the next, but over years and years to come.
None of us likes to imagine what will happen after we pass away. It's too sobering. But what will life be like after your death? And no, I'm not talking about an afterlife, I'm talking about life after death: not yours, but your family's. What will their life look like after you pass?