I’m not an economist but I do follow news about the economy on a daily basis and I’m starting to get a bit confused. The Dow is down seven of the last eight weeks, gas prices are down but the White House is tapping the strategic oil reserves, weekly jobless claims are on the rise again but the economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter. Is the economy getting better, getting worse or just holding its own?

Dow down seven out of the last eight weeks

The Dow closed today down 115 points, which puts it down .6% for the week. This makes it seven weeks out of just the last eight that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has ended the week in the red.

Obama administration tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Gas prices are down, the barrel price on oil is slowly dropping but the Obama administration is tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the tune of 30 million barrels of oil over the next 30 days. The conflict in Libya and the shaky state of the economy are two possible reasons for this move.

First time jobless claims jump to 429,000

First time jobless claims jumped to 429,000 last week, up from the 420,000 claims received the prior week. This doesn’t bode well for the June unemployment report expected out on July 8, 2011.

Economy growing faster than expected

After all that dour news there is a glimmer of hope – the economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter of 2011. The original estimate was a 1.8 percent growth in the GDP in Q1 2011 but the revised figure is 1.9 percent. Not much of a difference but improvement is improvement, right?