In the wake of Friday’s overwhelmingly positive jobs report, investors and analysts will likely be paying close attention to this week’s economic indicators to see whether there are other signs that the economy is headed toward a real recovery.
The National Federation of Independent Business will be releasing its index of small business optimism, which analysts expect to rise to 94.3 in February over 93.9 in the previous month. The NFIB Index has been on the rise since June 2011, and if analysts are correct, it is set to reach the highest level since the recession began. This is particularly significant because small businesses have had a more difficult time than larger firms in getting loans, even as the economy has begun to pick up.
Retail sales for February are expected to rise to 1 percent, compared with 0.4 percent in the previous month. But a significant part of that increase could be linked to the rising cost of gas: Without auto and gas sales, retail sales are expected to rise by only 0.5 percent. If the cost of gas continues to rise, that could ultimately pinch pocketbooks and dampen consumer consumption in other sectors.