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Consumer Comfort In U.S. Recedes From Peak

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NEW YORK (8/16/13)--With Americans' outlooks on the economy, personal finances and spending on the retreat, U.S. consumer confidence receded last week from its highest level in more than five years, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (Bloomberg.com and Moody's Economy.com Aug. 15).
 
The index dropped to -26.6 for the week ended Aug. 11--its first decline in four weeks--from the prior week.
 
Nonetheless, last week's reading was the second-strongest since January 2008--behind the previous week's -23.5, Bloomberg said.
 
The decrease shows consumer confidence still is tenuous and could be negatively impacted by rising fuel costs and interest rates, Bloomberg said.   
 
However, at the same time, escalating stock prices and property values are enhancing consumers' personal wealth, lifting their spending, which constitutes 70% of the U.S. economy, Bloomberg said.

U.S. Jobless Claims Drop To Lowest Level Since 2007

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WASHINGTON (8/16/13)--Initial claims for U.S. unemployment benefits last week fell to their lowest level since October 2007--before the recession--highlighting gains in the labor market as it continues to heal (The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg.com and The New York Times Aug. 15).
 
First-time claims--a proxy for layoffs--declined 15,000, to a seasonally adjusted 320,000, in the week ended Aug. 10, the Labor Department said Thursday.
 
Also, the four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, declined 4,000--to 332,000--the lowest level since November 2007.
 
With good momentum built up for consumer spending heading into the third quarter, the labor market is improving, Brian Jones, a senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in NewYork, told Bloomberg.