First-quarter indicators showed that while the economy has yet to roar due to all the recent fiscal stimulus, it's at least starting to purr.
Friday's GDP report, for one, painted a somewhat positive picture. The 2.3 percent growth rate may not have looked like anything spectacular, but it was the first time the first quarter beat economist expectations since 2008, according to Bespoke Investment Group.
The employment cost index, a metric closely watched at the Federal Reserve, showed compensation cost for nongovernment workers up 2.7 percent, compared with 2.4 percent a year ago.
And a slew of earnings blowouts this week by big technology companies pushed Q1 profit gains up to a glittering 22.9 percent, easily the best quarter in at least seven years.
"All things considered, the economy still appears to be on a solid footing, supported by a confident consumer sector — one with an optimism that is fueled by growing income and a strong labor market and is well positioned to spend more in the coming quarters," said Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors.
Still, there's plenty for skeptics to chew on.
A good chunk of the first-quarter GDP gains came from an inventory build. Consumer spending on big-ticket long-lasting items actually fell 3.3 percent, and nonresidential fixed investment grew 6.1 percent, which actually was a slower pace than the fourth quarter despite a big tax cut that should have pushed businesses to invest more in capital.
"The guts of the report overall were sluggish to say the least," David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff, wrote in his daily market note.