May retail sales surged 17.7% from April. The pickup was a record month over month gain in data going back to 1992, the Commerce Department reported this morning.
Stocks jumped on the news–as well as a trial balloon testing the waters on yet another attempt at a big infrastructure spending package from the White House.
As of 2 p.m. New York time the Standard & Poor’s gained 2.06% to 3136. The February 19 all time high is 3386. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 2.21% and the NASDAQ Composite added 1.83%. The Russell 2000 small cap index was ahead 2.49%. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) tacked on 1.02%.
The gain for May 2020 left the value of sales 6.1% below May 2019. All retail categories showed a gain in sales in May, including a 44% jump in sales of motor vehicles and a 29% jump in restaurant receipts. Together, those categories accounted for more than half the overall gain in sales.
It wasn’t all good news on the data front today. Industrial production rose by 1.4%, less than the median projection for a 3% gain.
The big challenge for the economy still lies ahead in July and August when the stimulus that has added to family incomes begins to expire. The enhanced $600 weekly unemployment payment is set to expire at the end of July and the Paycheck Protection Plan loan program that pumped money into small business payrolls is also nearing its end unless extended by Congress.