NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Despite the announcement of a strong consumer spending data for the month of March, indicative of an improving economy, the S&P 500 (^GSPC), and Dow Jones Industrial Average are lower Friday. This raises a question -- just how well is the economy improving?
The Commerce Department said Thursday that consumer spending increased 0.9% in March. This shows the economy is picking up after a cold winter stalled growth in the first quarter. And impressively, the increase in March is the highest since August 2009.
Jobless claims in the U.S. also fell to 6.3% in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is the lowest since September 2008. That's a 0.4% point decrease compared with March 2014 and better than the 0.1% point decrease predicted by analysts. All of these bode well for the economy and stocks going forward.
But the concern is with the growth rate. Let's face it, with these improvements being the best in four to five years, there is no arguing economic growth is slow. For a growing economy, these figures should be overtaking other figures from maybe 2013 or, conservatively, 2012, but definitely not 2009 and 2008. It just shows that the growth rate is low.
Moreover, the unemployment data from the eurozone don't indicate a global economy that's improving at a fast rate. For instance, in March its unemployment rate was held high at 11.8%. And this has been the trend over the past few years.
In general, when the economy is growing at such a slow rate, paper assets becomes more volatile, as we're closer to a recession than boom. The point here isn't to say that we'll be in a recession soon. The point here is to emphasize the need for a well-balanced portfolio, which protects your wealth in this period of economic uncertainties.
One of the best ways to diversify your portfolio is by adding some precious metal -- notably gold and silver -- to your portfolio, since they usually move counter to the paper money. A binary options platform reported on April 30 that "Expectations of a reduction in economic stimulus by the Fed, coupled with forecasts of strong employment figures from the world's top economy pushed contracts for the precious metal [gold] down."