New retail sales and housing data released by the government for January confirmed the recovery is rolling along, on the cusp of the expected enactment of a huge new stimulus and relief package. The stock market declined for the week and the U.S. landed a new robotic rover on Mars on Thursday, to study whether the barren red planet was ever home to life. This weekâ€™s financial news highlights the uneven pace of progress in our world.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported an unexpected surge in retail sales in January.
Januaryâ€™s retail sales soared +5.3% from December. Excluding gasoline -- because its price is so volatile that it often distorts the trend â€“ retail sales soared +8.6%.Â
Retail sales account for 30% of the U.S. economy.
Housing starts, another influential fundamental of economic growth, fell slightly in January from December, but remained at a strong level. In addition, housing permits â€“ an indicator of whatâ€™s ahead â€“ were very strong, at 1.88 million.Â The U.S. needs about 1.7 million housing starts annually to keep up with population growth and immigration.Â Â
The Standard & Poorâ€™s 500 stock index closed Friday at 3,906.71, a fractional decline of -0.19% from Thursday and -0.71% from last weekâ€™s closing price.Â The S&P 500, a proxy for the growth of the worldâ€™s largest economy, is worth +54.3% more than at the Coronavirus bear-market low of March 23, 2020.Â
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