The U.S. economy continued to expand across a spectrum of measures in July. Headlining the news, the Department of Commerce reported in late July that U.S. GDP grew 4.1% in the second quarter. Employment numbers continued strong readings as well, with July unemployment ticking down to 3.9% from 4.0% in June, the economy adding 157,000 jobs, and wages growing 2.7% from one year prior.
Conversely, consumers reportedly spent less on large purchases in June and July. Housing starts slumped 12.3% from May to June, and auto sales generally declined in June, although SUV and pickup sales were up for some automakers. Economists believe this is the result of rising interest rates. However, a report in July from the Commerce Department said retail sales climbed in June, up 6.6% from 12 months prior, despite rising prices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, consumer prices rose 2.9% in June.
Major stock indices also rose in July, with the Dow Jones closing up 4.7% and the S&P 500 up 3.6%. Strong corporate earnings and positive economic data led markets higher despite continued uncertainty regarding tariff policies.
The highlights from our weekly economic updates during July 2018 included (click the links for more details):