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The Economy This Week

Financial market woes shake consumer confidence; unemployment claims surge.
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Ongoing trouble in the nation's financial markets is shaking consumer confidence, along with a bleaker outlook for jobs. Here's a look at this week's economic developments and how they may affect your business.

Consumer Confidence Fades
Recent financial market volatility and higher gas prices kept consumer confidence down in November, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.

In a survey of 5,000 households nationwide, 22.3 percent of respondents described current economic conditions as "good," down from 23.2 percent in October, while 19.1 percent said conditions were "bad," up from 16.6 percent.

The outlook for the labor market also continued to decline, with more consumers expecting a tougher job market and lower wages in the months ahead.

"Despite this rather bleak outlook, consumers have not lost their holiday spirit and anticipate spending more on gifts this season," Lynn Franco, the director of the group's consumer research center, said in a statement.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department revised third-quarter economic growth up to 4.9 percent, from an earlier estimate of 3.9 percent.

Gas Prices Inch Down
Average gas prices across the nation fell by 0.2 cents last week to $3.097 per gallon, the Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday.

Despite the modest decline, gas prices were 85.1 cents higher than the same period last year. The West Coast continued to have the highest regional prices last week at $3.305 per gallon. Prices in California rose by 0.3 cents to $3.398 per gallon.

Jobless Claims Surge
The number of new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 23,000 last week to 352,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate the previous week rose 0.1 points to 2 percent, with 2.665 million people filing for benefits.

The largest increases in new claims last week were in Texas, Kentucky, and Idaho, while the largest decreases were in Michigan, California, and Puerto Rico. 

Last updated: Nov 29, 2007




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