Is the Economic Downturn Finally Over? - TheStreet

By Kevin Grewal, editorial director at

Most agree that there are two major economic indicators that will determine whether or not we are bouncing back from the worst economic downturn since the 1930s: the rate of consumer discretionary spending and unemployment rates. So how are we faring?

In regards to consumer discretionary spending, the retail sector seems to be in an upward trend. Most recently,


(KO) - Get Report

announced a 43% increase in quarterly earnings driven primarily by an increase in global demand. In addition, the Atlanta-based beverage-maker has rallied from its March low of $38.75 to a July 22 close of $49.13, a jump of 27%.

To add to the retail sector's rally,


(SBUX) - Get Report

beat analyst quarterly earnings expectations and increased its forecast for cost savings. The Seattle-based coffee powerhouse has been meaningfully belt tightening and has done a great job cutting costs through closing stores and renegotiating with suppliers. The company's stock has more than doubled since witnessing a March low of $8.27 to close at $17.39 on July 22.

From a more diverse perspective, the

Retail HOLDRs

(RTH) - Get Report

has gained 32% since hitting a $61.26 March low to close at $80.64 on July 22. In addition, the

SPDR S&P Retail

(XRT) - Get Report

has rallied to a July 22 close of $29.53 from a March low of $18.27, an increase of 62%.

In regards to unemployment numbers, the employed labor force just keeps diminishing. However, it appears that the declines are starting to soften a bit and fewer pink slips are being handed out. So in a nutshell, the retail sector is in an uptrend and unemployment numbers are starting to get a bit better, two indicators that our economy is heading in the right direction.

When considering the aforementioned equities, always remember that they come with risks. To alleviate some of this risk, it is important to implement an exit strategy. According to the latest data from, the upward trend in the previously mentioned stocks and ETFs will be coming to an end at the following price points: Coca-Cola at $48.04; Starbucks at $15.27; RTH at $78.36; and XRT at $26.95.

Keep in mind that these triggers change as the markets fluctuate and updated data is available at