The good news/tentative bad news on the U.S. economy

December 12, 2013

First, the good news, per Reuters:

The Commerce Department said retail sales increased 0.7 percent last month as Americans bought automobiles and a range of other goods. November’s retail sales increase was the largest in five months and followed a 0.6 percent rise in October.

Business inventories are on the rise as well. Here’s more from Reuters:

The unusually strong pace of inventory accumulation in the face of sluggish domestic demand left many economists anticipating that businesses would need to pull back. That would undercut fourth-quarter GDP growth.

The tentative bad news, Reuters adds, is that new claims for unemployment “surged 68,000 to a seasonally adjusted 368,000 last week.” Still, as Calculated Risk notes, jobless data this year can be noisy: “Weekly claims are frequently volatile around the holidays (Thanksgiving), and the level of the four week average of weekly claims suggests an improving labor market.”

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