On the upside, retail sales increased .2% in November, and excluding gas and autos, sales rose .5% – the biggest gain in four months. Restaurant sales climbed .7% and clothing store sales rose .8%. There were some areas of weakness – gas station sales fell .8% while furniture and building material stores slipped .3%.
On the downside, small business optimism dropped in November, with the NFIB optimism index falling 1.3 points to 94.8. According to the NFIB, “During this holiday season, small business owners are finding little to be hopeful or optimistic about including the economy in the New Year. This month’s Index continues to signal a lackluster economy and shows that the small business sector has no expansion energy whatsoever”.
Consumer credit slowed in October, rising 5.5% following a gain of 9.9% in September – the fastest pace since April 2014. October’s decline was the result of consumers cutting back on credit card use – credit card borrowing rose by .2% after jumping 8.7% the month before.
There were fewer job openings in October, according to the JOLTS report. Openings fell 2.7% to 5.38 million for an opening rate of 3.6%. On the upside, hiring picked up with 5.1 million hires, marking the third-strongest month since for hiring since the end of the recession.