Beginning today with the March Conference Board Consumer Confidence figure (key employment questions included), economic data will start to reflect the late Feb spike in oil prices and the human and economic reverberations of the March 11th Japanese earthquake so we can thus start the process of better quantifying the impacts. Specifically with gasoline prices and its effect on consumer spending, AAA said the average gallon yesterday hit $3.59, the most since Oct ’08 and is just .52 from the record high in July ’08 as we are just a few months from the beginning of the summer driving season. Since the Libya unrest began in earnest, prices are up .40 which equates to about $56b of extra gasoline spending annualized. In Europe, elevated inflation data out of Germany has likely clinched a rate hike next week from the ECB and the German Finance Minister said Portugal will most likely get a bailout in June when their new government is in place.
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