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Sales Rise Modestly; Jobless Claims Dip; Wholesale Prices Spike

Three more pieces of the economic puzzle were just released:

— Inflation: The Bureau of Labor Statistics says wholesale prices rose 0.8 percent in April from March, but were up a more modest 0.3 percent if you exclude food and energy costs (which economists do to gauge the underlying inflation pressures, not because they think food and energy costs don't matter).

In the past 12 months, wholesale prices have gone up a sharp 6.8 percent, BLS says.

— Employment: The Employment and Training Administration says that the number of people filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell by 44,000 last week from the week before, to 434,000. While there was a sharp decrease, the number of claims remains well above the level generally associated with an improving economy.

— Retail sales: There was a small, 0.5 percent, increase in retail sales in April from March, the Census Bureau says. Still, sales have now risen for 10 straight months. And they're up 7.6 percent in the past year.

Update at 10:10 a.m. ET. Sales And Inventories Rise:

The day's fourth economic report was just released. The Census Bureau says that sales at businesses of all kinds rose 2.2 percent in March from February, while inventories grew by 1 percent. The Associated Press writes that because inventories have now gone up for 15 straight months and sales have risen for 9 months in a row, those are signs that "factory production will remain strong in coming months" because businesses are enjoying steady demand for their products.

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Planet Money explains the economy over here.