Today brought a lot of earnings news, including Google’s disappointing numbers (accidentally filed ahead of schedule). On balance, U.S. economic data is picking up.
I say on balance because not every data point improved. For example, the jobless claim numbers were worse than expected, probably due in part to seasonal effects. On the positive side of the ledger, the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Indicator came in well ahead of expectations, as did the closely watched Philly Fed indicator. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort index also continued the trend of better-than-expected confidence numbers.
The message in the data over the past month is that the economy is picking up, despite continuing worries about a U.S. recession. One chart that expresses the improvement since June is the Citigroup Surprise Index (right), and the upward trend in this series suggests that the weight of the evidence in U.S. data continues to exceed the muted economic expectations of Wall Street analysts.