WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Conference Board releases its October index on U.S. consumer confidence at 10 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday.
HOLD STEADY: Economists expect the business group's consumer confidence index to stay unchanged at 103, the eight-month high achieved in September, according to a survey by the financial information firm FactSet.
CAN CONSUMERS POWER GROWTH?: Global pressures have shifted more of the burden for economic growth onto U.S. consumers — an uneasy transition for much of the country. Auto sales and spending at restaurants have advanced. But continued gains will hinge in part on steady job gains — and the pace of hiring fell in September to 142,000 net jobs, down substantially from recent monthly averages that were in excess of 200,000.
Many economists say that overall growth has been muted in recent months. The private forecaster Macroeconomic Advisers said Monday that annualized economic growth in the July-September quarter is tracking 1.5 percent, down from 3.9 percent in the prior quarter.
Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of all U.S. economic activity. But its significance has increased as the global economy has struggled.
FOREIGN ANXIETIES: Economic growth in China has been slowing, prompting its central bank to cut interest rates last week in hopes of boosting the world's second largest economy. A less robust China has hit prices for oil, coal and other commodities.
As a result of less demand, oil costs have nearly halved to roughly $44 a barrel over the past year. The cheaper oil has hammered emerging economies such as Brazil and Russia, in addition to many Middle Eastern producers. The European economy has struggled to grow at all, advancing at an annual pace of less than 2 percent.
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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