Many hedge fund managers are angry.
They are short this market (betting on a fall) and have failed to outperform with the market continuing its trek upwards. Many that I speak to are complaining that the fundamentals of the economy are not backing up the strength.
They look at the high unemployment and problems with Greece and suggest the rest of us are ignoring reality. I disagree. The data is suggesting that the economy is starting to surge upwards. Here are 27 statistics and anecdotes that suggest that the strength in the economy is real, consumers and businesses are spending again, and the economy is back on a growth track:
1) Average hourly earnings at $18.90, up from $18.52 a year ago. (Before employers hire fulltime, they get their current workers to work overtime, resulting in higher pay.)
2) Aggregate weekly hours worked highest its been since June 2009. (Again, suggesting overtime. But only so much overtime can be worked before employers begin to hire.)
3) The industrial production index up 10 months in a row after plummeting 13% from December 2007 to June 2009.
4) Retail chain stores up 10% year over year.
5) GDP last quarter showed 5.9% growth.
6) Initial unemployment claims has gone from a peak of 643,000 in April 2009 to 480,000 now.
7) The Greek debt crisis seems to be ending without major fallout in the form of other nations defaulting.
8) Home improvement-related retail sales were up 3.1%, suggesting consumers are putting money back into their homes again.
9) Railroad traffic, a sign of interest in commodities, is up 16% year over year, the highest since the recession began.
10) Rail shipments of metals were strongest as manufacturers from cars to other products that use steel are rebuilding their inventories
11) JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) both announced in their earnings releases that loan delinquencies were decreasing. JP Morgan also announced plans to hire 9000 staff, their biggest hiring spree since the recession began.
12) UPS announced earnings that were 20% higher than expectations, saying that shipments in the US had its first year over year increase since 2007.
13) Economists estimate that China GDP grew by 11% last quarter, the highest in 3 years.
14) Other areas of Asia showing fast growth: Singapore had 9% growth last quarter and Korea had the largest drop in its unemployment rate in over a decade.
15) A sharp increase in M&A activity where the acquirers are using cash rather than stock to buy companies (showing confidence in their businesses). Examples: Merck's (NYSE:MRK) $7bb offer to buy Millipore (MIL). AirProducts $5bb offer to buy AirGas (NYSE:ARG). Simon Property Group (NYSE:SPG) buying General Growth Properties.
16) Target (NYSE:TGT), Kohl's (NYSE:KSS), TJX Cos. (NYSE:TJX), Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST) and Aeropostale Inc (NYSE:AEO) all increased earnings guidance for next quarter, showing retail strength across the board.
17) Auto sales are spiking up. March annualized auto sales showed a 15% gain over February.
18) ISM non-manufacturing index (showing the strength of non-manufacturing indices) had the highest percent increase in five years.
19) The National Association of Realtors said that pending sales of existing homes jumped 8.2% higher over last month.
20) Employers added 162,000 jobs in March, the biggest gain in 4 years.
21) Ford reported the best monthly sales increase in 25 years.
22) The government has made money on its TARP bailouts of Citigroup (NYSE:C), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), American Express (NYSE:AXP), JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), and almost every other bank they lent money to.
23) Consumer spending had its fastest increase in 3 years last month.
24) Companies are rebuilding inventories: the Change in Private Inventories tracked by the Federal Reserve had its highest number since Q4, 2007
25) Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), a barometer on the entire tech sector, saw its earnings quadruple from a year ago and said its earnings were the best ever for that period. They also reported record results for the chips used in mobile devices and said that corporate technology spending was growing across the US.
26) Housing starts on Friday had their best number since October 2008.
27) Despite growth and low interest rates, inflation almost non-existent with the CPI coming in at 0.1% last month.
Disclosure: Long nothing in the article