Tuesday’s Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

The U.S. equity markets were a roller-coaster ride on Tuesday, dipping into negative territory three times before striking out for gains early in the afternoon.

DJIA: +0.19% to 14,641.00 S&P 500: +0.10% to 1,564.56 NASDAQ: +0.06% to 3,224.12
Gold: +1.10% to $1,589.80 per ounce WTI Crude: +0.80% to $94.11 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: -0.013 points to 1.734%

Here are three stories helping shape the markets on Tuesday afternoon:

1) Although stocks continue to hang near all-time nominal highs, the recovery on Main Street is still lacking to say the least. Pessimism among small business owners declined last month and is now below the average since the recession technically ended in 2009.

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The National Federation of Independent Business, the leading nonprofit small business association representing small and independent businesses, reported that its Small Business Optimism Index dropped 1.3 points in March to 89.5, compared to 90.8 in the previous month. March’s reading is only slightly above December’s level of 88.0, which was the second worst reading since March 2010. In the 44 months of economic expansion since the beginning of the “recovery” in July 2009, the index has averaged 90.7… (Read more.)

2) Retail sales in March were held back by the scant progress made in the labor market over the same period. Combined with little growth in wages, Americans found it difficult to spend, which is a concern for economists, as consumer spending accounts for approximately 70 percent of the economy. The previous two months of the year showed that retail sales were poised to extend the gains they made at the end of 2012, and consumer confidence levels have seemed to make a similar indication.

However, recent reports from the International Council of Shopping Centers and Redbook have shown some weakness… (Read more.)

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3) U.S. Wholesales: A Plus for Sustainable Economic Growth? While the Institute for Supply Management reported early last week that growth in the manufacturing sector — which accounts for 12 percent of the economy — fell from a reading of 54.2 in February to 51.3 because new orders increased at only sluggish rate in February, the Commerce Department’s report on the wholesale sector showed some expansion.

A burst of sales made for a rare inventory draw of minus 0.3 percent in the wholesale sector in February. The move was concentrated in non-durable goods like food products, drugs, and farm products — all segments where price swings often affect levels. Wholesale inventories for durable goods increased to a small degree, but that expansion was outpaced by a slightly higher rate of sales.

Don’t Miss: U.S. Wholesales: A Plus for Sustainable Economic Growth?