Growth is tepid for the index of leading economic indicators, up only 0.2% in March following a downwardly revised gain of only 0.1% in February.

And while higher energy prices coming up from low levels boosted the Consumer Price Inflation, the trend is still soft.

Consumer sentiment remains very strong, at 95.9 for the mid-month April reading versus a final March reading of 93.0 and well up from 91.2 at mid-month March. The index hit an 8-year high of 98.1 in January.
The leading strength for March, the jobless claims component, may already be evaporating this month. The next biggest positive is the rate spread reflecting what is still the Federal Reserve's near zero-rate policy.

All this weakness will certainly present a challenge to the Federal Reserve on when to raise interest rates.

In the negative column are building permits which, in Thursday's disappointing housing starts report, fell sharply.

Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in March dropped 5.7% on a monthly basis, coming in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,039,000.

This is a reminder that housing, despite some hopeful signs, has yet to boost economic growth.

And declines in the factory workweek and for factory orders are reminders that the manufacturing sector, due in part to weak exports, may now be pulling down economic growth.
Other readings include a paltry 0.1% gain for the coincident index which confirms ongoing weakness in economic growth and a 0.4% gain in the lagging index that highlights prior strength in economic growth.
Overall consumer price inflation rose 0.2% after rebounding 0.2% in February. The March figure equaled analysts' forecast for a 0.2% gain. Energy increased 1.1% after gaining 1.0% in February. Gasoline prices increased 3.9% after rebounding 2.4% in February after plummeting 18.7% in January

Despite all this general softness, consumers are confident. Consumer sentiment remains very strong. The index hit an 8-year high of 98.1 in January.
A solid gain in the current conditions component to 108.2 versus a final March reading of 105.0 hints at strength this month for consumer activity, perhaps even for retail sales. The expectations component is at 88.0, up from 85.3 and pointing to rising confidence in the jobs outlook.