• Economic data releases underscore a steady, albeit unspectacular recovery
• Crude oil prices have retreated, but gasoline remains expensive
• The global economic picture is mixed, with Europe entering recession, China slowing down and other Asian economies accelerating
• Economic prospects in 1Q12 should beat expectations, but momentum might be difficult to maintain
• S&P bull streak coming to an end as the index clings to 1,400
The third and last revision in fourth quarter 2011 GDP confirmed that economic growth accelerated to 3% (annualized) in that time period. Since then, the recovery has continued, underscored by a steady stream of positive economic releases, which has fed a more upbeat assessment of economic prospects for 2012. Nevertheless, economic policymakers remain cautious, as reflected in recent comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has stated concerns about the weak legs of the economic recovery and the need to maintain an expansive monetary policy. The Fed chairman’s caution was reflected in the Minutes of the March 13th-14th Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which were released on April 3rd. These minutes, while recognizing the unexpected buoyancy of the economy in the past few months, also warned that the improvements in the employment picture might prove difficult to maintain through the coming months.
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