- The U.S. economy added 916,000 jobs in March, the highest total in three months
- The Consumer Confidence Index was 109.7 in March, up from 90.4 in February
- Home prices in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas grew at an 11.2% annual rate in January
Top Three Market Headlines
Hiring Accelerates in March: The U.S. Department of Labor reported last week that U.S. nonfarm payrolls grew by 916,000 in March, marking the third straight month of growth and the best monthly performance since last August. While hiring rose in most industries, the biggest gains came in leisure and hospitality (+280,000) as pandemic-related restrictions eased in many parts of the country. The construction industry also reported solid growth, adding 110,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate continued to trend down, falling to 6.0% in March; this is well below the 14.8% peak registered in April of last year, but remains above the pre-pandemic rate of 3.5%.
Consumer Confidence Jumps: The Conference Board, a private research group, reported last week that its Consumer Confidence Index, which reflects consumers' current and six-month future outlooks for the economy and the labor market, jumped to 109.7 in March. This was a 21% increase from the prior month and the highest reading since the pandemic began a year ago. Consumers' assessment of current conditions and their future outlook both increased materially from the prior month. Reflecting the improved optimism, surveys indicated higher purchase intentions among consumers for big ticket items such as homes and autos.
U.S. Home Prices Soar in January: Home prices across 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas grew 11.2% in January over the prior year, according to the S&P Core Logic Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices released last week. Beating analyst expectations, the sharp increase was the fastest annual growth rate seen since 2006. This was also the seventh consecutive month that the year-over-year rate of gains has accelerated. The recent price surge has been driven by constrained supply combined with heightened demand as buyers look to take advantage of low mortgage rates. Among the cities surveyed, Phoenix, Seattle, and San Diego continue to report the highest year-over-year gains.