It’s not only the just-released University of Michigan consumer confidence report and February retail sales on Thursday that surprised economists and investors with another dose of underwhelming news. Overall, U.S. economic data have been falling short of prognosticators’ expectations by the most in six years.
The Bloomberg ECO U.S. Surprise Index, which measures whether data beat or miss forecasts, fell to the lowest since 2009, when the nation was in the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
There’s been one notable exception to the gloom, and it’s a big one: payrolls. The economy added 295,000 jobs in February and 1.3 million over four months, a reflection of a healthier labor market in which the unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest in almost seven years.
Most everything else? Blah.