Consumer confidence rebounds, hits five-month high

Consumer confidence unexpectedly rebounded in December to a five-month high after slumping in recent months partly due to the partial government shutdown, according to a Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary reading. 

The widely watched gauge of consumer sentiment reached 82.5, up from a November reading of 75.1 The boost is likely to be welcomed by retailers, who have reported weak holiday sales compared with last year.

On Thursday, data firm Retail Metrics reported that same-store retail sales -- excluding figures from the Gap and Zumiez chains -- rose an anemic 1.9% last month, missing expectations for a 3% year-over-year increase. 

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November's weak sales disappointed retailers who had gone all-out in their efforts to lure consumers. They offered steep discounts, opened on Thanksgiving Day and some even offered price-matching policies over the Black Friday weekend. 

Consumer sentiment has likely improved because of the rebounds in the stock market, rising property values and improving labor conditions.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the economy generated 203,000 jobs last month. With November's jobs report, the economy has added an average of 204,000 jobs over the last four months. 


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