Sorry to be a downer after the holiday weekend, but forecasts of the many important economic numbers coming out this week point to slowing growth in the U.S. economy. Friday brings us the May unemployment report, and economists are expecting private sector job growth to be well down from the encouraging reports of the last three months. The predicting machine of the stock market has been pointing down all month as well, with the S&P 500 off two percent.
This graph is a quick compilation of several key numbers, with recent history as well as the forecasts for May assembled by Bloomberg:
It shows home prices (the Case-Shiller index, which is reported with a two-month lag), consumer confidence, and the ISM indexes for services and manufacturing, indexed to 100 as of December 2010. I've also added the number of net new jobs on private payrolls each month -- that series didn't fit the format.
Everything is slumping, except for consumer confidence. To be honest I don't see how that can be rising, given how focused everyone seems to be on the price of gas. But confidence has been up and down this year, and although it's up lately is not really any higher than it was in December.
One series I did not include is initial unemployment claims. The crucial number there is 400,000 per week, and sadly we have been back above that number again for several weeks.