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  • **FILE** Baltimore's Harbor East shopping district is reflected in a retail store's window display on April 24, 2013. (Associated Press)

    Consumer confidence surges to five-year high

    Consumer confidence soared to a five-year high this month as an improving job market and double-digit gains in home prices lifted consumer spirits, the Conference Board reported Tuesday morning.

  • Consumer Eva Cevallos with her eleven-month daughter, Quinn, shop for Thanksgiving celebrations at the Pre-Black Friday event at the Walmart Supercenter store in Rosemead, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    Neither Sandy nor 'cliff' will steal Christmas from shoppers

    U.S. consumers are in an upbeat mood and are preparing to spend more this holiday season than last year's, providing a badly needed boost to the economy. But headwinds from the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy and the year-end political storm brewing in Washington could put a damper on their shopping spree, analysts say.

  • Protesters march past a closed shop during a union demonstration Wednesday in Thessaloniki, Greece. Officials announced Europe has been in the second leg of a double-dip recession since the fourth quarter of last year. The overall European unemployment rate is at a record-high 11.6 percent, and it is hovering around 25 percent in Greece and Spain. (Associated Press)

    Europe confirms double-dip recession

    Europe has been in the second leg of a double-dip recession for nearly a year, officials announced Wednesday — a development that hardly comes as a surprise to the millions of workers protesting record-high unemployment in the streets of Athens and Madrid, or to many U.S. corporations with slumping sales on the continent.

  • ** FILE ** This Oct. 18, 2012, file photo, shows the iPhone5. (Associated Press)

    Report: Shoppers hit stores with gusto in Sept.

    U.S. consumers went on another shopping spree last month, driving up retail sales by a robust 1.1 percent in the second straight month of sizable gains, the Commerce Department reported Monday morning.

  • **FILE** Shoppers in New York pass signs for discounted clothing sales on July 19, 2012. (Associated Press)

    July surge in spending fraught with caution

    U.S. consumers snapped out of a spring funk last month and went on a shopping spree. That sent sales at department stores, restaurants, auto showrooms and other retailers soaring by 0.8 percent, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday morning.

  • ** FILE ** In this June 13, 2012, file photo, job seekers have their resumes reviewed at a job fair expo in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

    Economy is in the eye of the policy beholder

    Reading the economy these days is like taking a Rorschach test: Optimists see signs of progress in each economic report, while pessimists see the end of the expansion and many others host middling views.

  • Auto workers stack the inner door panel for the Ford Explorer on April 4, 2012, at the Ford Stamping Plant in Chicago Heights, Ill. (Associated Press)

    Jobless rate falls again, but job growth disappoints

    The U.S. unemployment rate slipped further to a three-year low of 8.2 percent last month as businesses kept churning out new jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday morning.

  • Eric Rosenkrantz waits on the unemployment insurance phone at WorkSource Oregon on Sept. 2, 2011, in Tualatin, Ore. (Associated Press)

    Job growth, unemployment stall in August

    Job growth ground to a halt last month in the strongest evidence to date that businesses were hit as hard as consumers by a sharp loss of confidence during the month spawned by Washington's debt crisis and severe turmoil in the world's financial markets.

  • Customers are starting to find increased prices even at Wal-Mart, which has branded itself as a discount retailer. (Associated Press)

    Wages not keeping up with pace of inflation

    American workers are getting squeezed, not able to get ahead because anemic growth in their wages is not keeping up with the fast rise in prices for food, fuel and other necessities.

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