WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Commerce Department reports on spending at retail businesses and restaurants in November. The report will be released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Thursday.
BIG GAIN: Economists forecast that retail spending rose 0.6 percent in November, according to a survey by FactSet. That would follow October's 0.4 percent gain.
AUTO SALES DRIVE INCREASE: A big increase in auto purchases probably drove total sales higher for the second straight month. Last week, auto companies said sales jumped 9 percent in November compared with a year ago to a 16.4 million annual pace. That was the best showing in nearly seven years.
In October, sales at auto dealers rose 1.3 percent, according to the retail sales report, after falling in September. Those sales were a big reason for October's unexpected gain. Many economists thought retail sales would be weak that month because of the partial government shutdown.
But even outside autos, sales in October were healthy. Core sales, which exclude autos, gas, and building materials, rose 0.5 percent.
The retail spending report is the government first look at consumer spending, which drives roughly 70 percent of economic activity.
MORE SPENDING NEEDED: October's retail sales gain, November's auto sales increase and other recent figures suggest consumers may be poised to step up spending. That would give a much-needed boost to growth in the final three months of the year.
Consumer spending rose 0.3 percent in October, the government said last week, up slightly from September's figure.
And hiring has been solid. Employers added 203,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 7 percent. Wages even picked up a bit and have risen 2 percent over the past year, outpacing inflation.
Any boost from consumers would be welcome. Consumer spending rose only 1.4 percent in the July-September quarter, the weakest gain in nearly four years.
Still, the holiday shopping season got off to a weak start over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. The National Retail Federation estimated that sales fell over the weekend for the first time since they began tracking them seven years ago.
- Budget, Tax & Economy
- Politics & Government