NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The S&P 500 is slightly higher in afternoon trading, with the Nasdaq leading indices into the green. TheStreet's Debra Borchardt is with Ben Willis of Albert Fried & Company, discussing the effects of the U.S. consumer. 

While economists have said that the consumer and economy remain weak and sluggish, Willis suggested that that doesn't seem to be the case. 

Consumers have ramped up shopping and eating out, evident by the recent earnings reports from Potbelly (PBPB) and Macy's (M), which topped analysts' expectations. 

Although five years ago Willis said the broader market was a screaming buy, that's no longer the case. 

He suggested that investors be more selective when looking for stocks to buy as the global economy continues to improve. 

Willis said that college graduates are also starting to find work, which has been a big problem since the recession hit several years ago. 

These young people might not be working their dream jobs yet, but at least they've found employment, he added. Willis concluded that while things are improving, there's definitely still a divide between the "haves and the have-nots."

-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich.

Bret Kenwell currently writes, blogs and also contributes to Robert Weinstein's Weekly Options Newsletter. Focuses on short-to-intermediate-term trading opportunities that can be exposed via options. He prefers to use debit trades on momentum setups and credit trades on support/resistance setups. He also focuses on building long-term wealth by searching for consistent, quality dividend paying companies and long-term growth companies. He considers himself the surfer, not the wave, in relation to the market and himself. He has no allegiance to either the bull side or the bear side.

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