Nightly News   |  April 02, 2013

Signs the economy is rebounding?

In a big sign that people are feeling good about the economy again, cars and truck sales this March were the best in years. Additionally, the housing market appears to be recovering. But are low interest rates behind these rosy new numbers? NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>> back here at home double-edged sword on the u.s. economy tonight, promising signs of life that millions of americans aren't feeling yet. but we can say there are more indicators that conditions are turning around. first, there's wall street . today the dow and the s&p both set record highs. an up day across the board, in fact. but there's also spending to look at. it's always good for the american economy when people start buying cars. nearly 1.5 million cars and trucks were sold in the month of march. that's the most in almost six years. and there are other signs. nbc's tom costello is at a ford dealership in vienna, virginia, tonight. tom, good evening.

>> hi, brian. ford sales up 6% in march. customers drawn in by those shiny new cars and suvs and trucks, low interest rates , and some statistics that suggest the economy really has found firmer ground. today's signs of economic recovery are right there in the headlights. auto sales in march the best in six years. ford, chrysler, toyota, gm, and nissan, all reporting strong sales. truck and suv sales especially strong. cnbc's phil la bow.

>> this is not something where the automakers are goosing the market with outrageous incentives. this is people coming into showrooms and saying i need a new car or truck and this is the time to buy.

>> reporter: the average car on the road today is more than 11 years old. something else helping the economy, gas prices down 30 cents from a year ago. and while many areas of the country are still struggling with real estate foreclosures, and decreased home equity , the overall housing market seems to be recovering. existing home sales now at their highest pace since 2006 . among the cities showing the most improvement, denver.

>> in this neighborhood i would expect properties to go under contract within a week.

>> reporter: where ty docken is a realtor working one of the hottest areas of the city.

>> buyers need to be ready to jump on a property when they find it. if they think about it, that property will be gone. sellers need to be ready to move when they put the sign in the yard.

>> reporter: with many cities now facing a shortage of new homes, construction is slowly starting to pick up. and that means jobs. and then there's the stock market . many investors worry it's gone too far, too fast. up 11% this year. and trading at all-time highs. but is that yet another sign the economy has turned a corner?

>> the economy has turned a corner, and we're doing much better than we were with more ability to keep moving forward. that said, there's still speed bumps ahead. most notably, the fiscal drag associated with the sequester.

>> reporter: yeah, the concern is that the sequester could put some brakes on the economy, and the economic recovery. meanwhile, there's a lot of concern that all this money that's floating out with low interest rates could be yet another bubble waiting to burst. but 12 million people, brian, remain unemployed. we'll get the latest unemployment numbers on friday. back to you.

>> tom costello in vienna, virginia. thanks.