The July numbers might also have some implications for the Federal Reserve, which met this week and decided not to make any changes to monetary policy. However, the Fed indicated it was watching the economic data and might initiate a new round of stimulus if the economy were to slide.
“These numbers will push them back on their heels again,” says Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Although the better numbers were relatively modest, Wall Street traders were buoyed. As of 11:40 a.m., the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 244 points to 13122, or up almost 2 percent on the day.