Though the economy hasn’t been much to celebrate the past couple of years, this week’s traditional start to the holiday shopping season may bring a bit of cheer.
Several important indicators, such as consumer confidence, manufacturing and retail activity, are showing modest positive signs. But with unemployment still high and real estate still struggling, it’s unlikely that most customers will be driving home sleighs full of gifts.
Nationwide, sales in October increased 1.2 percent, the largest amount in seven months, according to U.S. Commerce Department data. It was the fourth consecutive month of retail gains, coming after losses in the spring that led many economists to worry about the recovery’s
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Demand for purchase mortgages jumped the week ending Nov. 19 to the highest level since the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in releasing the results of its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.
Purchase loan applications were up 14.4 percent from the week before, the MBA said, to the highest level since the week ending May 7. The increase in demand was magnified somewhat by the fact that the previous week included Veterans Day and no adjustment was made for the holiday, the MBA said.
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