There are two sides to every coin, and while analysts keep warning of rising inflation with prices of consumer commodities rising and at a 10-month high, jobless claims fell to a 7-year low. It looks as if things are truly getting better, even though retail giant Wal-Mart posted a loss for its fifth consecutive quarter.
Of course, Wal-Mart points out that the reasons for its losses are really due to large investments made in e-commerce, higher health care costs in the US and increased investments in Sam’s Club membership, and have little to do with rising prices of consumer commodities – consumers are clearly feeling otherwise. Traffic at its U.S. stores dropped by 1.4%, and that is the sixth consecutive decline – hardly something that can be tied solely to increased investments and not to rising prices or inflation.
The only good that seems to have happened is that new applications for U.S. unemployment benefits hit a seven-year low last week. Though there are many experts who claim a recuperating economy is not the only factor behind such statistics, but that the numbers of employable adults are shrinking.
The claims for state unemployment benefits saw a seasonally adjusted decline by 24,000, which according to the Labor Department signified an improving job market. In a separate report, the federal authorities said that the Consumer Price Index has increased by 0.3 percent last month with rising food prices and gasoline costs, and the rise was the biggest since June last year.
However, the central bank is still keeping overnight interest rates near zero, with little indication of raising the rates before 2015.
All in all, the best news is of stronger job markets. The winter had been hard on many industries, especially those dealing with construction and outdoor activities. Nonfarm payrolls increased 288,000 in April and the year is expected to continue in an overall better jobs-situation than before.