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Economic indicators show mixed results


U.S. retailers had a strong month in April, but claims for unemployment benefits dampen the economic outlook, Reuters reported.

The Thomson Reuters chain store sales index, which is based on analysts’ estimates, calls for an 8.2 percent increase from the 25 retailers it tracks that report monthly sales. That would be on top of the better-than-expected 1.7 percent increase in March. The largest factor is Easter, which was on April 24 this year; it came on April 4 in 2010.

Analysts were concerned that sales momentum could slow heading into the next few months when there are no major holidays to help sales, especially with gasoline prices rising past $4 a gallon and unemployment remaining high.

In less positive news for the economy, claims for unemployment benefits rose by 43,000 to reach 474,000, the highest since mid-August, according to U.S. Department of Labor numbers released today. Economists had expected claims to fall to 410,000.

“I think we’re in a situation where the markets and the Fed have been too optimistic,” said Bob Andres, chief investment strategist and economist at Merion Wealth Partners in Berwyn, Pa., in an interview with Reuters.

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