The U.S. economy has been unsteady recently, with employment slowing as just 160,000 jobs were created in April.
But there are a couple of bright spots. April retail sales improved by 1.3% and core retail sales rose 0.9%, beating expectations of 0.8% and 0.3% increases, respectively.
In addition, automobile sales rose 4% from a year earlier.
This is in line with market analysts who think that the auto industry will continue to thrive until at least 2018. Investors should take a look at car companies, particularly Ford Motor and Honda Motor.
This growth in purchasing is especially important because much of the retail sector has been in trouble for a while. Recently, department stores such as J.C. Penney and Macy's reported disappointing first-quarter sales and cited low consumer demand as a significant factor behind their troubles.
But this doesn't mean that investors should rush to buy retail companies' stock at a low point or celebrate just yet. A look at the trends behind this increase in retail sales, combined with other economic information that came out in the April jobs report shows that while the U.S. economy could be on the road to recovery, there are still plenty of concerns.
And while both retail and online stores reported increased sales over the past month, the fact is that while department stores sales are declining, online sales have grown by more than 10% over the past 12 months. Amazon is now the second-largest apparel seller in the United States, behind only Walmart.
Just as bookstores and electronic retailers have been hit hard by the rise in online retail, clothing stores could very well become another victim.
Either way, this growth and re-targeting of retail sales shows that investors would be better off looking at online retailers and sales companies that boast a strong Internet presence instead of the great department stores that once dominated American retail life.
The other important factor to look at is that while the jobs report number is anemic, wage growth isn't.
Wages increased by 0.3%, which The New York Times described as "the most positive sign of the economy's trajectory in Friday's report."
Furthermore, wages over the past 12 months increased by 2.5%, well ahead of the inflation rate.
For those looking for a bull market, this is important economic news. Consumer spending remains the bulwark of the American economy, and higher wage growth will lead to higher consumer spending, which could theoretically increase wages more.
One key result from this could be a strengthening of the dollar, and currency market trading on Friday indicated that the dollar did surge on the back of the retail sales report.
But there is the Federal Reserve. The good wage growth and sales numbers may finally be the sign that it needs to raise interest rates again.
Ever since the Fed raised rates in December, it has delayed another hike out of concern that such a move would destabilize the U.S. economic recovery.
Economic analysts are generally mixed at best about the possibility of another rate hike.
If those who expect higher rates are correct, then the dollar will likely remain weak for the foreseeable future. Although this could have a positive effect on sectors such as U.S. manufacturing, it would still indicate a lack of general confidence within the economy as a whole.
One jobs report isn't going to make or break the U.S. economy, so investors interested in betting on a bear or bull market would be better off waiting until the trends become clearer. The combination of both positive and negative signs probably indicates a weak dollar and some pessimism toward the U.S. economy for now.
Still, the overall retail sales and wage growth numbers indicate that certain sectors have growth potential.
As noted, investors should look at the automobile and online retail sectors and analyze whether retail as a whole can continue to benefit from increased consumer spending.