RETAIL SALES RISE IMPRESSIVELY
In July, they were up 0.6% – the largest monthly increase seen so far in 2017. This gain suggests the economy has gathered momentum in the third quarter. Core retail sales (which do not include food, construction, gas, and auto buying) advanced 0.6% for July as well. The Department of Commerce also revised some spring numbers: retail purchases improved 0.3% in June and were flat a month earlier.
AN UPTURN FOR CONSUMER SENTIMENT
The University of Michigan’s monthly gauge of how U.S. households view current and future economic conditions rose 4.5 points in its preliminary August edition to 97.6. Not since January has the index been so high. In the past 12 months, it has gained 8.7 points.
HOUSING STARTS RETREAT
Groundbreaking decreased 4.8% in July, according to the latest monthly Census Bureau snapshot of American construction activity. Building permits were also down for the month, with the pace of permits issued declining by 4.1%.
WALL STREET BENCHMARKS SEE WEEKLY LOSSES
The Barcelona terror attack and concerns over the federal government’s potential to adjust U.S. economic policy impeded equities last week. During August 14-18, the S&P 500 lost 0.65%, settling at 2,425.55 Friday. In its fourth straight weekly retreat, the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.64% to 6,216.53. Like the S&P, the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a second straight weekly loss, ceding 0.84% to reach 21,674.51. In contrast, the Dow Jones Utility Average notched a 1.09% gain across five days. At the end of Friday’s trading session, gold stood at $1,291.60, and WTI crude, at $48.51.