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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index  increased to 109.7 (1985=100) in March, up significantly over February’s 90.4 reading. The reading marked the third consecutive monthly increase and it is now at its highest level since March 2020. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose to 40.8%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen declined to 11.0%. The survey showed consumer optimism about the labor market with more saying jobs were “plentiful” than “hard to get”, with 36.1% expecting greater job availability in the next six months and 13.4% anticipating fewer jobs. Consumers also indicated they plan on purchasing homes, autos, and major appliances, however, inflationary concerns could temper things a bit as fuel prices continue to increase.
The Energy Information Administration report  for the week of March 26th showed U.S. crude inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by .9 million barrels to 501.8 million barrels. Crude oil inventories are running at a level 6% higher than the five-year average for this time of year. Refineries were operated at 83.9% of their operable capacity. Gasoline inventories dropped by 1.7 million barrels and are about 4% below the five-year average for this time of year. Total products supplied over the last four-week period averaged 19.2 million barrels a day, down by 4.9% year over year. Motor gasoline product supplied averaged 8.7 million barrels a day, up by 0.1% year over year. Distillate fuel product supplied averaged 4.1 million barrels, up by 0.7% and jet fuel product supplied was down 30.2% compared with the same four-week period last year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported  that employers added some 916,000 nonfarm jobs in March, as the unemployment rate slipped to 6.0% from 6.2% in February. This is the best jobs report in seven months, showing optimism as the U.S. starts to climb out of the pandemic. Job growth was widespread, led by gains in leisure and hospitality (+280,000), public and private education (+190,000), construction (+110,000), professional and business services (+66,000), and manufacturing (+53,000). In addition, February’s already strong employment figures were revised (+89,000) to a 468,000 gain, and January was revised (+67,000) to 233,000. The overall US economy is tracking at 8.4 million fewer jobs now than it did pre-pandemic.
Upcoming Economic Reports:
Tuesday April 6 – JOLTs Job Openings (Feb)
Friday April 9 – U.S. Producer Price Index (MoM) (Mar)