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Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

Surveys of business owners continue to show rising sentiment as the U.S. moves toward summer.

Driving the news: The Chicago purchasing managers index (PMI) came in at 66.3 in March, the highest it's been since July 2018.

What it means: The survey asks business owners whether things are better, worse or the same for their firm, with a reading of 50 meaning that respondents overall were neutral.

  • A reading over 60 shows conditions improving strongly.

The big picture: The Chicago PMI, a bellwether for the Midwest U.S. economy's growth, is one of multiple sentiment surveys to reach a multiyear high this month, following the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index's jump to a level that was almost double its previous record high.

  • March manufacturing surveys from the Institute for Supply Management and IHS-Markit also reached levels at or near 60.

Don't sleep: All of these surveys also have shown prices reaching yearslong highs as well.

  • The Chicago prices paid index rose for a seventh straight month, touching its highest level since August 2018.

Go deeper

Home prices saw largest annual gain in nearly 15 years

Expand chart
Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Home prices saw the biggest annual gain in close to 15 years this January, according to the Case-Shiller index.

The big picture: Phoenix, Seattle and San Diego saw the highest year-over-year home price gains.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Mar 31, 2021 - Economy & Business

Rebounding confidence suggests big March jobs number

Data: The Conference Board; Chart: Axios Visuals

Confidence is returning to U.S. consumers as the government ramps up big spending programs that are putting money directly in Americans' bank accounts and COVID-19 vaccinations increase.

Why it matters: The return of confidence itself is reassuring, but more economists also are expecting that a major increase in hiring this month is behind the improvement.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Mar 31, 2021 - Economy & Business

Mortgage applications keep falling, home prices keep rising

Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

The total number of U.S. mortgage applications declined last week for the fourth straight week, and the ninth time in 11 weeks, data released this morning by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed.

Why it matters: The consistent downturn in applications shows just how much the housing market has weakened since January when mortgage rates hit all-time lows, and unlike in February when economists pointed their fingers at cold weather, this slump appears to be market-driven.