Last Week in the News


U.S. retail sales rose 3.6% from November 1 through December 24, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, which estimates all forms of payment including cash. Online sales jumped 18%, consumer electronics increased 5.9% and jewelry sales rose 5.6%. Economists had anticipated overall retail sales to remain flat.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in October. It was the fifth consecutive monthly gain and follows a 0.2% increase in September. The index is now up 3.4% from its bottom in May. On a year-over-year basis, the gauge was down 7.3% from October 2008 and down 29% below its peak in April 2006.

The Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index rose to 52.9 in December from an upwardly revised 50.6 in November. Economists had expected a reading of 52. The index — which hit a record low of 25.3 in February — was benchmarked at 100 in 1985, a year chosen because it was neither a peak nor a trough in consumer confidence.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 22,000 to 432,000 in the week ending December 26. It was the lowest pace since July 2008. Continuing claims for the week ending December 19 fell by 57,000 to 4.98 million, the lowest level since February.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on construction spending on January 4, pending home sales on January 5 and wholesale trade January 8.

 

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