Consumer confidence rises in US


AN INDEX of consumer sentiment rose to its highest in six months in early December and the trade deficit narrowed in October in the latest signs that the US economy’s health is slowly improving.

The preliminary December reading on consumer confidence yesterday climbed for a fourth straight month to 67.7. “US consumers appear to be ending the year in a better mood,” said Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics in London.

Improved confidence could lead Americans to spend more readily, which would add to the recent momentum gained from strong retail sales and factory output.

The narrowing in the trade deficit also showed that more goods and services bought by US businesses and consumers were produced within the country.

Employment has also made gains, although some economists expect the pace of improvement will be too slow for consumers to ramp up spending for long.

With signs US growth is quickening coming against big risks to the outlook, the Federal Reserve is expected to hold monetary policy steady at a meeting on Tuesday. – (Reuters)