The Economy Dug Out From Winter Snow and Sluggishness in March

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Does today's economic news mean it's time to cool some of the enthusiasm for Friday's jobs report?

The market didn't seem to think so, with the major averages all rising. Better-than-expected auto sales certainly seem to be helping: sales at Fiat Chrysler (FIATY) rose 13.5% in March to set the pace, with the larger Ford (F) up 1.4% and Toyota (TM) down 2%. But the weaker-than-forecast print on the Institute of Supply Management manufacturing report for March, as well as soft construction data for February released Tuesday morning, provide one note of caution.

The ISM index rose to 53.7, up 0.5 points on the ISM's scale. Anything over 50 points toward an expansion, but the number missed an average forecast of 54. The number represents only a limited bounce-back from the weather-related problems in January and February, IHS Global Insight economist Michael Montgomery said.

"The important employment score moderated to 51.1 for its mildest reading since last June, but still positive and consistent with moderate growth over time,'' Montgomery said. "If the sector was being given grades it would have garnered a B+ in late 2013, faltered to D on weather in January and February, but managed a C or C+ in March.''

But that seems to have been trumped by satisfying news about vehicle sales for March. And that's logical enough  for several reasons -- real sales data overrule a survey like ISM, and better news at the point of sale will work its way back into new orders that will show up in ISM reports to come, economist Joel Naroff said.

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