Consumer purchases rose 0.9% in March, the first increase in four months, according to the Commerce Department. However, economists had projected a 1.1% increase in retail sales, suggesting that consumers are still cautious about spending.
Production at U.S. factories, mines and utilities jumped 1% last month for the biggest gain in nearly two years while initial claims for jobless benefits plunged to a 14-year low last week. The data reinforced other figures pointing to an improving economy but contributed to a mixed picture overall, including weak retail sales data reported a day earlier.
A survey by the Real Estate Roundtable shows executives in the commercial real estate sector expect conditions to deteriorate. In the survey, 93% of respondents said values were lower than last year, while 82% said those values would continue to decline. "Over the last year or so, the commercial real estate industry has been stuck between a rock and a hard place," said Jeffrey DeBoer, Roundtable chief executive.