On an upbeat note, housing starts climbed 13.2% last month, to an annual pace of 1.07 million units, and the highest level since November 2013. And on a more upbeat note, permits to build new homes rose 8% to an annual pace of 1.08 million units – the highest since June 2008.
Also on a positive note, small business optimism is back to pre-recession levels at a 6 and ½ year high, with the NFIB optimism index reaching 95.2 last month, the highest reading since October 2007.
Casting a shadow over March’s numbers, retail sales barely rose last month, edging up slightly at .1%, hampered by declines at furniture, electronics and appliance stores and restaurants. In March, sales rose 1.5%, the largest increase since 2010.
Also on a downbeat note, consumer sentiment fell this month as negative views on income dimmed an otherwise positive outlook.