Lower gas prices had consumers in a better mood heading into the holiday shopping season, though the sunnier outlook may not carry into the new year. Here's a look at this week's economic developments and how they may impact your business.
Leading Indicators Rebound
Driven by cheaper gas prices and a brighter consumer outlook, the index of leading economic indicators rose by 0.2 percent in October, the Conference Board reported Monday.
Six of 10 components made gains in the monthly index, which rebounded in September after declines in previous months, the New York-based private research group said. Positive contributors in October included real-money supply, stock prices, and average weekly manufacturing hours, among others, while vendor performance, building permits, and manufacturers' new orders for nondefense capital goods trended down, the group said.
Also on the upturn, by 0.1 percent, was the group's coincident index, which gauges current economic conditions and has been rising since September 2005, the group said.
Those gains may be short-lived, according to the University of Michigan, which on Thursday reported an unexpected decline in consumer sentiment in November.
The university's monthly consumer sentiment index for November dropped to 92.1, compared to a preliminary reading of 92.3 taking at the start of the month and 93.6 in October.
Mall Sales Up
Same-store sales rose by 1.2% in the week ending Nov. 18 after declining the previous week, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported on Tuesday.
Holiday shopping is expected to increase sales by 3 percent by the end of November, the group said.
Jobless Claims Rise
Claims for unemployment benefits rose by 12,000 to 321,000 in the week ending Nov. 18, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
For the week ending Nov. 11, the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.9 percent, the report said.
The biggest increase in new claims were in Mississippi, California, and Massachusetts, while decreases were in Kentucky, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, the report said.