Market's Heights Belie Economic Slowdown

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There was more evidence Friday that the U.S. economy is slowing down: The government said only 88,000 new jobs were created in April – the lowest number in nearly two-and-a-half years.

But if that's bad news, somebody forgot to tell the stock market. The Dow Industrials moved further into record territory today, closing at 13,264.

These days, the stock market seems to be brimming over with optimism and high spirits. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, which is the broadest measure of performance, is headed for an all-time record. But the buoyancy and excitement is belied by the economic data.

"The economy has really slowed down," says Alan Skrainka, chief investment strategist at Edward Jones.

Skrainka notes that the U.S. economy grew just 1.4 percent during the first three months of the year, a big slowdown from a few years ago.

"Seventeen Fed rate hikes, the impact of higher energy prices, the housing market slowdown – all those things have combined to bring growth down," he said.

It's not unusual for stock prices and economic data to go in opposite directions. The economic data reflect how things have been in the past; stocks are about predicting the future. Skrainka says a lot of investors believe the current slowdown will be over by the end of the year.

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