Based on Bloombergâ€™s monthly consumer expectations survey, Americans that think the econony is improving are at the highest level since 2004 (34 percent of respondents thought that the economy was on an upward trajectory). Jobless claims for the week ending March 17 are also the fewest since February 2008. Consumer spending accounts for 70% of the U.S. economy.
The decline in jobless claims likely reflects strength in the labor market. Payrolls increased more than expected in February and large manufacturers have added jobs at production facilities. The price of oil, however, is rising, and this is expected to act to some degree as a damper on growth. At the same time, growth in China is slowing and some analysts predict recession in Europe.