New home sales surprised the experts. The Commerce Department said that new home sales were up by 13.8% for March, and last week used home sales were up as well. One economist says that the housing market still has a lot of room to maneuver and that a slump is more like a 'soft landing' for 2006. The 30-year mortgage is averaging 6.49% nationwide.

The Labor Department noted that first time claims were down to 271,000, some of the lowest numbers since 2000. New housing starts fell 8.9% in December according to the Commerce Department and new building permits also dropped by 4.4%.

Retailers, after reporting a better than expected January, are having the opposite effect for February. Cold blizzard-like conditions in the Midwest and eastern Atlantic states hurt same-store sales, although Wal-Mart showed a 2.9%+ gain. Retailers are looking forward to March with the Easter spending.

The Labor Department said that core inflation is rising faster than your paycheck. Through the first three months of this year overall inflation is up by 4.3%, last year the rate was 3.4%. Energy prices are up by 21.8% compared with 17.1% last year; core inflation, excluding food and energy, is up by 2.8% and March was the largest increase in all categories.