Economic indicators: Some green shoots, but weeds too

A smörgåsbord of economic data released Thursday continues to suggest the U.S. economy continues to show 'fits and starts' - some 'green shoots' that Fed Chair Ben Bernanke spoke of, along with a lack of progress in other areas/metrics.

First, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index rose to 40.1 in from a very-low 31.4 in March, the Institute for Supply Management announced Thursday. Readings above 50 indicate an expansion; under 50, a contraction. A Bloomberg News economists' survey had expected the Chicago PMI to rise to just 35 in April -- the Chicago PMI is closely watched because it is generally viewed as a representative indicator of sentiment in the nation's industrial/manufacturing core.