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Ahead of the Bell: US consumer confidence

November 24, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Conference Board releases its November index on U.S. consumer confidence at 10 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday.

STRONGER SENTIMENT: Economists expect the business group’s consumer confidence index to rise to 99, up from 97.6 in October. Consumer sentiment has retreated somewhat from an eight-month high of 102.6.

HIRING FUELS CONFIDENCE: The job market rebounded strongly in October, a vote of confidence that the economy will continue its gradual, six-year expansion from the depths of the recession. Employers added 271,000 workers last month as the unemployment rate advanced to a healthy 5 percent. Hiring averaged just 145,000 in September and August, as the weight of China’s slowing economy has damaged growth prospects worldwide, the dollar has risen in value and oil prices remain low amid relatively weak demand.

U.S. economic growth appears to have strengthened slightly after dipping in the July-September quarter. The economy expanded at an annual rate of just 1.5 percent in those months, down from growth of 3.9 percent in the prior quarter. The Atlanta Federal Reserve expects that growth domestic product will advance at a 2.3 percent rate during the final three months of the year.

The October jobs report also indicated that wage growth is starting to improve. Average hourly earnings have advanced 2.5 percent over the past 12 months to $25.20, the largest gain in more than seven years. Weak wage growth has tempered growth in retail sales, with auto dealers and restaurants accounting for much of the increase this year.

Economic growth in China has tilted downward this year, causing the prices for oil, coal and other commodities to tumble. The result of slower economic growth worldwide has been a stronger dollar, making U.S. goods more expensive abroad and reducing exports. The lower oil costs have also damaged the U.S. energy sector, forcing layoffs among drilling companies and leading to cutbacks on orders for pipeline and equipment.

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