March Madness Lite
I really wanted to tie this issue of Good News Friday into March Madness, but the only hook that came to mind is this: The news has been so good lately that trying to narrow it down to just a few items is… madness.
Retail sales adjusted for seasonal variations jumped by a robust 1.1 percent in February while core sales, which exclude autos and gas, increased by 0.6 percent. Part of that difference is due to rising gas prices, which bumped up gasoline sales by 3.3 percent last month, but many other segments were strong as well, including clothing and accessories, up 1.8 percent, and motor vehicles and parts, up 1.6 percent. Some of the increase may be related to the warm weather, and rising gas prices could reverse some of these gains. But overall, consumer fundamentals are improving.
· The National Federation of Independent Business Index increased from 93.9 to 94.3 for February, its sixth consecutive monthly gain and its highest level in a year. Small businesses are feeling more confident, which should help boost hiring in the next few months.
· Initial jobless claims receded to 351,000 during the week ending March 10, matching its level a month ago, which was a four-year low.
Have a great weekend and good luck to your team. Go IU!
SVP, Chief Economist
Grubb & Ellis
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