Should investors be more worried about manufacturing and earnings data?

Market participants are instead cheering a rise in oil prices and the fact that earnings season could be a lot worse.

Robert Johnson, CFA 25 April, 2016 | 5:00PM Alina Lamy

It was unusually difficult to find much of a pattern in this week’s data. Emerging markets were down fractionally, while the U.S. was up a tiny 0.6%. Europe did better, gaining 1.7%, while commodities returned an exemplary 3.7%. Meanwhile, the interest rate on the 10-year U.S. Treasury was up 0.14% to 1.89%.

After good earnings news from the financial sector last week, news out of high-profile tech stocks was not good. Both  Alphabet GOOG and  Microsoft MSFT disappointed investors with their reports, and  Intel INTC announced some layoffs.  Starbucks SBUX reported disappointing sales for its most recent quarter, too. However, some of the economically sensitive railroads delivered better-than-expected results.

Economic news was mixed and confusing, limiting the impact on market activity. On a historic note, weekly unemployment claims logged another all-time recovery low last week as claims fell to 247,000, the lowest level since 1973. Weekly retail sales, on a year-over-year basis, also continued to improve. Short-term housing data was mixed with housing starts and permits both falling and existing-home sales gaining, basically cancelling each other out in investors' minds. However, the longer trend shows accelerating interest in new single-family homes, a topping out in the apartment market and a glacially slow existing-home market. Markit purchasing manager data dashed hopes of a manufacturing sector improvement as Europe, Japan and the U.S. all registered declines in this week’s report. However, earthquakes in Japan last month and the knock-on effects of worldwide supply chains may have been a factor, too.

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Robert Johnson, CFA

Robert Johnson, CFA  Robert Johnson, CFA, is director of economic analysis for Morningstar.