Sales Rise Modestly; Jobless Claims Dip; Wholesale Prices Spike

May 12, 2011

Three more pieces of the economic puzzle were just released:

-- Inflation: The Bureau of Labor Statistics says wholesale prices rose 0.8 percent in April from March, but were up a more modest 0.3 percent if you exclude food and energy costs (which economists do to gauge the underlying inflation pressures, not because they think food and energy costs don't matter).

In the past 12 months, wholesale prices have gone up a sharp 6.8 percent, BLS says.

-- Employment: The Employment and Training Administration says that the number of people filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell by 44,000 last week from the week before, to 434,000. While there was a sharp decrease, the number of claims remains well above the level generally associated with an improving economy.

-- Retail sales: There was a small, 0.5 percent, increase in retail sales in April from March, the Census Bureau says. Still, sales have now risen for 10 straight months. And they're up 7.6 percent in the past year.

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