Positive signs for U.S. recovery

In a recap of some of this week’s economic data heading into the holidays, there is reason for optimism as businesses round out the year:

  • Unemployment claims fell by 4,000 to 364,000 for the week ended Dec. 17, marking the fewest claims since April 2008.
  • Thompson Reuters/U. of Michigan consumer sentiment index hit 69.9 for December from 64.1 in November, marking a 6-month high.
  • Fuel prices are down to an average of $3.21 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline as of Dec. 20, its lowest level since February.
  • Housing starts jumped by 9.3% in November and the National Assoc. of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market index roseĀ in Dec. for the third straight month.