Chinese stocks outperformed their counterparts around the world Monday after authorities loosened controls on brokerages lending money to investors for share buying. Trading elsewhere was muted ahead of the looming long Eastern weekend in many countries.
Americans' household wealth jumped in the final three months of last year, pushed higher by rising stock prices and greater home values. That leaves many households, particularly wealthy ones, with more money to spend -- a potential boost to economic growth.
The economy was expanding in most of the country in January and February, helped by gains in consumer spending and home sales. But there were also rising headwinds from falling oil prices and a strong dollar that held back some sectors, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.
President Barack Obama on Friday rejected relentless Republican criticism of his economic leadership, saying his policies are paying off in "big tangible ways" and anyone who doesn't acknowledge that is "not telling the truth."
A sharp 12.8 percent decline in construction in the Midwest and a 3.7 dip in the Northeast propelled the broader decrease, with construction also falling in the South. It was nearly unchanged in the West.