This Week: Looking Back and Ahead

Retail sales were up with the biggest monthly increase this year. Coming in at 0.6% above last month suggests that the economy is gaining speed and consumers are more active.

Core retail sales (which do not include food, construction, gas, and auto buying) moved up by 0.6% in July as well. The Department of Commerce did revised some of the previously reported numbers as well. Retail purchases improved 0.3% in June and were flat a month earlier.

The University of Michigan’s monthly gauge of how U.S. households view current and future economic conditions rose 4.5 points in its preliminary August edition to 97.6. This is the highest reading since January. Over the past 12 months, it has gained 8.7 points.


Housing starts dropped 4.8% in July, according to the latest monthly Census Bureau snapshot of American construction activity. Building permits were also down for the month, with the pace of permits issued declining by 4.1%.

The Barcelona terror attack and concerns over the federal government’s potential to adjust U.S. economic policy impeded equities last week. During August 14-18, the S&P 500 lost 0.65%, settling at 2,425.55 Friday. In its fourth straight weekly drop, the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.64% to 6,216.53. The S&P and the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a second straight weekly loss, moving lower by 0.84% to 21,674.51.

However, the Dow Jones Utility Average moved higher by 1.09% for the week. At the end of Friday’s trading session, gold stood at $1,291.60, and WTI crude, at $48.51

Key reports this week:

On Monday, Cumulus Media and Sysco report quarterly results.

Tuesday we will see Coty, DSW, Intuit, Kirkland’s, La-Z-Boy, Medtronic, Salesforce, and Toll Brothers report earnings.

On Wednesday, the Census Bureau report on July new home sales and earnings from American Eagle Outfitters, Eaton Vance, Express, HP, Lowe’s, Regis Corp., and Williams-Sonoma.

Thursday we will take a look at July existing home sales , while also scrutinizing new initial unemployment claims numbers and earnings news from Abercrombie & Fitch, Autodesk, Broadcom, Burlington Stores, Dollar Tree, GameStop, Hormel Foods, Michaels Companies, J.M. Smucker, Staples, Toro, and Ulta Beauty.

Friday, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen speaks on the topic of “financial stability” at the Kansas City Fed’s annual Jackson Hole economic symposium Friday; investors will also be watching for durable goods orders that are expected to see a significant drop due to transportation orders.