U.S. stock markets are laser focused on economic data, but finding a lot of mixed signals. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Heading to the homestretch of 2014, the U.S. economic picture continues to brighten. Factory activity in the mid-west grew at its fastest pace in two decades. U.S. home resales jumped to their highest level in more than a year last month. And weekly jobless claims continue to trend under 300,000. And with the latest reading on consumer inflation coming in flat- it is firmly below the Fed's 2 percent target to raise rates. Sam Stovall US equity strategist S&P Capital IQ: SOUNDBITE: SAM STOVALL, U.S. EQUITY STRATEGIST, S&P CAPITAL IQ (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There really is no urgency with which the Fed has to raise rates. Typically, a lot of inflation comes from the payroll side of the equation. Not necessarily the cost of the goods. And so with the unemployment number coming down nicely but with the wage component not really rising all that dramatically our expectation is that inflation will probably remain fairly subdued and could give the Fed reason to delay its first rate increase. " That's been good news for the stock market - which continues to trade at record high levels. Moody's Analytics Ben Garber: SOUNDBITE: BEN GARBER, ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Well stock markets are looking to the future. They see that we are well beyond the weakness that we saw at the beginning of this year. That is a sign of optimism in the US economy and a vote of confidence that the recovery will continue." There are, however, concerns about global growth - especially after new reports Thursday showing weak business data out of the euro zone, and a loss of growth momentum in Chinese factories.