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Two US states have contracting economies

Nicole Sinclair
Markets Correspondent

Over the past three months ending in February, the economies of Michigan and Massachusetts both contracted.

These states were negative standouts in what was pretty stable growth across the board for the country, as the Philly Fed’s US index rose 0.6% over the past three months.

This data follows what was an upward revision in fourth quarter GDP, showing an expansion of 2.1%, ahead of the previous estimate of 1.9%.  The additional strength came from consumer spending, which offset a drag downward from trade.

Since his election in November, President Trump has pointed to strong confidence readings and strong stock market returns as a reflection of his administration’s success.

However, recent hard data—more mixed—has contrasted with consumer optimism and stock market animal spirits.

A mixed March job report set off a more tempered tone for the month. Nonfarm payrolls grew by 98,000, well below the 180,000 that was expected by economists and down from February’s revised job gains of 219,000.

This was followed by disappointing auto sales: March vehicle sales came in at 16.6 million units, seasonally adjusted, the lowest level since April 2014. And housing numbers below expectations—with housing starts down 6.8% to 1.22 million units, seasonally adjusted, according to the Commerce Department.

Recent inflation data has also come in below expectations. On April 14, the core consumer price index (CPI) fell by a seasonally-adjusted 0.3% last month.

This has set up a complicated backdrop for the impending first quarter GDP numbers, which come at the end of the month.

Nicole Sinclair is markets correspondent at Yahoo Finance.

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