• March retail sales beat consensus expectations, and February data were revised sharply upward.
    • Retail sales exceeded forecasts, rising 0.7% in March versus the expected gain of 0.4%.
      • Eight out of thirteen categories posted increases led by e-commerce and gas stations.
      • Excluding autos, sales rose 1.1% – beating consensus with the largest monthly increase in over a year.
      • The initial 0.3% gain in February retail sales ex-autos was doubled to 0.6% in the March release.
    • Retail sales were up 4.0% compared to one year ago, and sales excluding autos were up 4.3%.
    • “Core” retail sales – excluding food services, auto dealers, building materials stores, and gasoline stations, which are an important factor in calculating GDP, increased by 1.1%.
  • Residential construction softened in March as rates pushed higher, with both single-family and multi-family starts declining during the month.
    • Housing starts in the US plunged 14.7% month-over-month to an annualized rate of 1.321 million in March, reversing from an upwardly revised 1.549 mil level in February and well below forecasts of 1.485 mil.
    • Building permits, a proxy of future construction, came in weaker than expected, falling 4.3% to 1.458 mil.
  • The Conference Board’s leading economic index (LEI) fell 0.3% in March after an upwardly revised 0.2% in February.
    • The index has now declined 5.5% over the past year as the manufacturing-based indicators continue to wane. LEI has fallen in 24 of the last 25 months, with February showing the only sign of life.

How do retail sales and housing data impact you?

  • The path of retail sales delivers insight into the economy’s direction because consumer spending drives growth. This latest reading is another data point that confirms to the Federal Reserve (Fed) that economic growth remains intact and the first of their mandates—price stability—should remain their main priority.
  • Housing data is also showing the effects of this surprising economic strength through higher mortgage rates.
    • Persistently higher inflation and the prospect of a higher-for-longer interest rate environment have pushed up long-term rates, which should restrict near-term demand, generating temporary headwinds for builders.
  • LEI is designed to show whether the economy is getting better or worse; however, the index has largely fallen out of favor because its heavy reliance on manufacturing ignores the predominance of services in the economy.


  • The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), and Q1 GDP are on tap this week.

How do housing data and retail sales impact you?

  • Growth may have moderated slightly but will still show meaningful strength in the face of higher rates.
    • Meanwhile, March’s inflation print is poised to remain elevated.
  • These data points won’t do much to change the higher-for-longer rate stance of Fed Chairman Powell, who remarked earlier in the week, “We’ll need greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably towards 2% before it would be appropriate to ease policy.”


Market Index Returns as of 4/19/2024WTDQTDYTD1 YR3 YR5 YR
S&P 500-3.04%-5.40%4.58%22.16%7.97%13.19%
Dow Jones Industrial Average0.05%-4.49%1.37%14.84%6.10%9.74%
Russell Mid-Cap-2.39%-6.50%1.54%14.63%2.71%9.10%
Russell 2000 (Small Cap)-2.76%-8.29%-3.54%10.52%-2.47%5.88%
MSCI EAFE (International)-2.29%-4.69%0.83%6.93%2.09%5.75%
MSCI Emerging Markets-3.58%-3.64%-1.36%4.16%-6.97%0.80%
Bloomberg US Agg Bond-0.61%-2.36%-3.11%-0.63%-3.52%-0.05%
Bloomberg High Yield Corp-0.58%-1.64%-0.19%8.94%1.38%3.63%
Bloomberg Global Agg-0.55%-2.22%-4.26%-1.64%-5.94%-1.51%


  • It was another difficult week for broad market equities. The Tech-heavy Nasdaq declined -5.52% on the week, its worst such weekly performance since 2022; the S&P 500 dropped -3.04%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a mild gain of +0.05%.
  • There was no discernable saving grace down the cap spectrum, with Mid-caps down -2.39 % and Small caps returning -2.76%, both mild outperformance of a dismal S&P 500 Index return.
  • International equities posted a -2.29% return for the week and outperformed emerging markets, which posted a negative return of -3.58%.
  • Major bond indices declined for the week as yields across the treasury curve rose.
    • The US Agg posted a -0.61% return and lagged High Yield and Global bonds.
    • High Yield, which is less sensitive to interest rates, outperformed with a -0.58% return.


    • Nvidia’s stock plunge leads ‘Magnificent Seven’ to a record weekly market-cap loss: The decline in “Magnificent Seven” stocks erased a collective $950 billion from their market capitalizations this week, which made for the group’s worst-ever weekly loss of market value. While Tesla Inc.’s stock was the biggest weekly percentage decliner of the gang from a stock perspective, Apple Inc. Microsoft Corp. and Nvidia Corp. were bigger contributors to the market- cap losses, as those three companies are all worth substantially more than the electric car maker. Nvidia was the biggest market-cap loser of the week, shedding almost $300 billion. Shares of Nvidia fell 13.6% on the week as the semiconductor sector came under pressure. Nvidia’s stock also suffered its worst weekly performance on a percentage basis since it dropped 16.1% on Sept. 2, 2022. According to Dow Jones Market Data, it declined 10% in Friday’s action to log its worst single-day percentage drop since it fell 18.5% on March 16, 2020. With the stock off almost $85, it secured its largest one-day price decline on record.4
    • 249th Anniversary of Paul Revere’s Ride: On April 16th, 1775, Paul Revere began to gather tips that a British raid was planned for the city of Concord, Massachusetts, in the coming days. There were two routes that the British soldiers could take: by land through the Boston Neck and by sea across the Charles River. Revere arranged to have a signal lit in the Old North Church – one lantern if the British were coming by land and two lanterns if they were coming by sea. On April 18th, 1775, 700 British soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith gathered on Boston Common and boarded ships to raid Concord. At about 10 PM, with two lanterns lit, Revere and two other riders, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, began their nighttime rides towards Lexington and Concord to rouse the minutemen and warn citizens of an attack.5

    Reprinted with permission from BTN. Copyright © 2021 Michael A. Higley.