Market and economic update: Improving consumer confidence and consistently low initial jobless claims

The market’s attention is likely to be focused on this week’s economic data releases, especially May’s employment report. This data may help answer questions regarding the health of the U.S. economy.

First quarter U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) declined 1% (quarter over quarter annualized rate), down from the 0.1% originally estimated. Weakness was driven by slipping exports and inventory destocking.

This is the second quarter in a row we have seen inventory declines. Orders and manufacturing activity have not deteriorated, indicating to us the inventory cycle may be on the upswing after the temporary dislocation caused by winter weather. Durable goods orders have grown 7% over the past three months and manufacturing purchasing manager survey data has continued to indicate expansion.

The consumer remains healthy as indicated by stable to improving consumer confidence surveys and consistently low initial jobless claims. The May employment report is expected to see around 215,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs, according to a Bloomberg survey, which is around the average year to date, but faster than the average for 2013.

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Robert L. Haworth, CFA, is a senior investment strategist and Darrell Behnke is the Madison market leader for the Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank. 

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