...if you can. Lots of people are still hurting but many indicators point upwards:
Jobless Claims Fall
Equity futures ticked up slightly after the Labor Department said that initial claims fell to 386,000 in the week ended Aug. 16, down 17,000 from an upwardly revised 403,000 in the prior week and below analysts' forecasts for a total of 395,000 claims.
Information Technology Outlook Warming
On Aug. 19, Standard & Poor's upgraded its recommendation on the information technology sector to overweight from marketweight. S&P's economic team sees a strengthening U.S. economy over the next 12 months, with improved job figures. S&P also expects gross domestic product growth to accelerate, from an estimated 2.4% in 2003 to 4.1% in 2004, 3.9% in 2005, and 3.1% in 2006. Moreover, the expectation is for equipment investment to rise more than twice as fast as the overall economy in each of those three years. It's worth noting that S&P's annual growth forecast for IT spending -- somewhere between 8.5% and 9.5% -- is about half the rate witnessed in the boom era of the late 1990s.
The S&P Retail Index
Housing Starts Jump in July
Home builders don't start a house unless they are fairly confident it will sell upon or before its completion. Changes in the rate of housing starts tell us a lot about demand for homes and the outlook for the construction industry. Furthermore, each time a new home is started, construction employment rises, and income will be pumped back into the economy. Once the home is sold, it generates revenues for the home builder and a myriad of consumption opportunities for the buyer. Refrigerators, washers and dryers, furniture, and landscaping are just a few things new home buyers might spend money on, so the economic "ripple effect" can be substantial especially when you think of it in terms of a hundred thousand new households around the country doing this every month.