It's a shortened trading week on Wall Street, but there is no shortage of economic data. This week brings key U.S. manufacturing data, Federal Reserve minutes, auto sales, and the all-important government jobs report for March.
Manufacturing overseas seems to be holding up. A Chinese purchasing managers index rose for the fourth straight month in March, and British manufacturing activity also expanded at its fastest pace in 10 months last month. The good news didn’t extend to the eurozone, however, where the manufacturing sector shrank again last month, to a reading of 47.7. Any reading under 50 signifies contraction and adds to signs that the bloc is in recession.
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As for Wall Street, it's kicking off a new month and a new quarter in quiet fashion. The first quarter was the best in 14 years for the Dow and the S&P 500 with gains of 8% and 12%, respectively; the Nasdaq Composite surged 19% in the first quarter for its strongest start to the year in 21 years.
And the Bulls have even more ammo: April has been one of the strongest months for stocks, as over the past five years April has showed an average gain of 4.5%.
The government is probing several incidents of engine fires in General Motors' (NYSE:GM) 2011 Chevy Cruze and Chrysler's 2010 Jeep Wrangler. In many of the cases, the vehicles caught fire while moving and were completely destroyed.
And Burger King now looks, feels, and tastes different. The home of the Whopper has a new menu including the introduction of 10 new items. After months of taste-testing and a $750 million revamp, Burger King is offering smoothies, frappe coffees, chicken strips, and snack wraps. Even the famous Whopper will see a change: one slice of thicker cheese, rather than two thinner slices. Burger King says the single slab makes for easier melting.
The chain will also remodel its stores at a cost of about $275 million per restaurant. One of the physical changes will be moveable chairs and tables.
Burger King's goal is to return to the No. 2 spot behind McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) but ahead of Wendy's (NYSE:WEN), and broaden its appeal to moms and baby boomers.