The employment rebound in the U.S. suggests the economy will be strong enough to withstand recent increases in gasoline prices, said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd.
“There’s a lot of momentum here,” the New York-based economist said in an interview on Bloomberg Radio’s “The Hays Advantage” with Kathleen Hays and Vonnie Quinn. Gasoline price gains so far are “not enough to take anything off the economy at this moment,'' he said.
The national average unleaded regular gasoline price rose to $3.57 per gallon yesterday, a 5 percent increase from $3.39 a month ago, according to AAA, the nation’s largest auto group.
“It’s got to be something very, very big to slow the economy,” Rupkey said. “Once the jobs creation begins again, those new people have paychecks and that’s what powers the economy forward.”
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gained 8.1 percent this year as data from employment to spending underscore an economy gaining steam. The unemployment rate slid to a three-year low of 8.3 percent in January after the economy added 243,000 jobs, while retail sales gained 0.4 percent, according to reports released this month.
The stocks rally is another sign that fears of a looming slowdown are “greatly overblown,” Rupkey said.