The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Features

December 10, 2012

Americans in mood to spend at start of holiday

WASHINGTON — Consumer confidence held close to a seven-month high last week as the holiday-shopping season put more Americans in the mood to spend, and claims for unemployment benefits declined.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index eased to minus 33.8 in the period ended Dec. 2 from minus 33. The reading, within the margin of error of 3 percentage points, was the 11th straight above minus 40, a point associated with recessions and their aftermath. Jobless claims decreased by 25,000 to 370,000 in the week ended Dec. 1, the Labor Department said.

Holiday shoppers are taking advantage of discounting, expanded store hours and Internet deals, explaining why a gauge of the buying climate climbed to a five-year high. While confidence is getting a lift from cheaper gasoline and an improving job market, failure by lawmakers to prevent automatic tax increases threatens to throttle the household spending that accounts for 70 percent of the economy.

"I don't expect that consumers will hold back during the holidays," said Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc in New York. "I think the bigger risk is that as we move into the first quarter, if there's not a resolution on the fiscal 'cliff,' " Americans would cut back as their after-tax incomes decline.

The drop in claims was the third straight. The mid-Atlantic region, which employs about 14 percent of U.S. workers, is recovering after Sandy. Apart from the storm-related damage, which may also be reflected in the November payrolls report Friday, employers will probably curb hiring until the risks from the global slowdown and looming fiscal tightening dissipate.

A recovery in third-quarter household worth, boosted by higher stock values and home prices, may also make Americans more inclined to spend. Net worth for households and nonprofits increased by $1.72 trillion from July through September, or 2.7 percent from the previous three months, to $64.8 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Thursday from Washington in its flow of funds report.

Text Only
Features
  • dog-sunglasses.jpg Do animals have a sense of humor?

    Right now, in a high-security research lab at Northwestern University's Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics, scientists are tickling rats. Their goal? To develop a pharmaceutical-grade happiness pill. But their efforts might also produce some of the best evidence yet that humor isn't something experienced exclusively by human beings.

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140317-AMX-DESIGN-FOOD178.jpg Fun and beautiful maps of the world made from signature regional foods

    Food stylist Caitlin Levin and photographer Henry Hargreaves have collaborated on a series of food-based country maps composed of signature national ingredients.

    March 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • AvengerExt.jpg Avenger an American value

    If you’re someone who appreciates the golden age of domestic sedans — those big, comfortable, heavy-feeling cars with a uniquely American sense of style — this one ought to pique your interest.

    March 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 4.27.26 PM.png The glitz, the glamour and the movies: 3 apps for Oscar weekend

    With the Oscars approaching, this is a weekend for movies. Download these apps, then watch a few movies, create your own and settle in for the awards show.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140218-AMX-DESIGN-HOTEL182.jpg The rise of the hotel bakery

    One of the key trends in hotel design in recent years has been a sharp focus on creating a hotel lobby that is a destination, not just a pass-through.

    February 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • How the U.S. government spends millions to get people to eat more pizza

    WASHINGTON - It all adds up to a lot of calories: On an average day, the report notes, pizza provides 6 percent of the total caloric intake for American children and 4 percent for American adults.

    February 18, 2014

  • Mazda3Int.jpg Redesigned Mazda3 among best new small cars

    Mazda must be dabbling in black magic.
    How else can you explain the fact that this relatively small Japanese company is doing what no one else in the car industry seems to have figured out? They’re building cars that get amazing gas mileage and are exhilarating to drive at the same time.

    February 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • SoulExt.jpg Soul is still stylin’

    Starting under $15,000, the Soul has always pegged its success on buyers who want a trendy, contemporary, eye-catching car without spending a ton of cash. And now that an all-new Soul is out for 2014, it shows that Kia is doubling down on this recipe of combining funky looks and an affordable price.

    February 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 01.jpg US News names its 'Best Cars for the Money'

    WASHINGTON - U.S. News & World Report Wednesday announced its annual Best Cars for the Money list on its Best Cars website.

    February 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • You're doing it wrong: how to make better ramen

    NEW YORK — The finer points of instant ramen preparation may be up for debate, but the noodle cakes and flavor packets bequeathed to the world by Momofuku Ando are un-mess-up-able.

    February 10, 2014

House Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Featured Comment
Twitter Updates
Seasonal Content
Poll

Will you participate in March Madness?

Yes I watch the games and complete a bracket.
Yes I complete a bracket.
No
     View Results