The Economic Data That Moved the Markets This Past Week

The Economic Data That Moved the Markets This Past Week

Despite the holiday-shortened trading week, investors were bombarded with economic data points that offered plenty of insight into the health of the U.S. economy. And most of the data was positive, leading investors to bid stocks higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 226 points, or 1.51%, and of its 30 components, only five ended the week in the red. The S&P 500 rose 1.59%, while the Nasdaq increased by 2.23%.

Let's dive into the week's economic data.

On Monday, the Commerce Department reported that construction spending in May increased by 0.5% and hit an annual rate of $874.9 billion, the highest level in nearly four years. A big part of the boost came from a housing market that by most indications is really heating up. But, while we've been getting good news on home sales and construction starts, rising interest rates bear watching, as they could derail this train before it gets up to full speed.

On Tuesday we got June's auto-sales numbers from Ford and General Motors, which both saw sales increase 13% and 6.5%, respectively. These reports were bolstered by a solid U.S. factory order report, which indicated that factory orders in May increased by 2.1%, up from an upward-revised 1.3% increase in April. Many economists look at this report to tell us how manufacturing in the U.S. is doing and what they can expect from the big industrial companies in the coming months. And I think analysts and economists will be raising forecasts after this report.

On Wednesday, investors got both the ADP private-sector jobs report and the United States' International Trade report. The ADP jobs number was expected to come in at 160,000 but managed to reach 188,000 for the month of June. That was a welcomed surprise on the half-day of trading leading into the Fourth of July holiday on Thursday.

On the other hand, we learned that the U.S. trade deficit in May grew by more than the expected $40.1 billion to more than $45 billion. This report could mean that the U.S. is strengthening as consumers and businesses are buying more goods, but it could also mean that other nations around the world are weakening, causing them to buy less of what we have to offer. We already know China is slowing and Europe is a mess, and it's a little scary to consider that the rest of the world may not be all that healthy.

The markets were closed on Thursday. The only thing being released around my house was a lot of fireworks.

The Labor Department's monthly jobs report for June came in at 195,000 new jobs on Friday, while forecasts had pinned the number at a mere 155,000. The readings for April and May were both revised higher, too, by a total of 70,000 jobs. But although the jobs market is heating up, the unemployment rate stayed the same at 7.6%, as a higher number of Americans are participating in the workforce. To learn more about the jobs report, click here.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter: @mthalman5513. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors and owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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