U.S. retail sales fell 16.4% in April from March levels, the Commerce Department reported today. March itself had seen an 8.3% month to month drop. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg were looking for a 12% decline.
In a separate report from the Federal Reserve today industrial production decreased 11.2% in April. That’s the steepest monthly drop in the 101-year history of this data series. Manufacturing output fell 13.7%.
The April figures on retail sales cover a period when most states were still under shutdown restrictions due to the coronavirus. The next report is expected to show improvement from re-openings in many states.
That will set up the May retail sales figures to be either good news for the markets–since they will be better than April’s decline–or bad news since they’re likely to show that the economy faces a very long road back from the coronavirus damage.
An bets on market direction are, therefore, not “simple” bets on the retail sales data but are based on your read on investor reaction to that data.
Good luck on that guess.