American consumer sentiment at 7-year high

Most U.S. retailers reported strong sales in October, a sign American consumers were spending with more gusto and could help keep the economy growing at a brisk pace.

Other data on Friday showed consumer sentiment rising to a seven-year high this month, also positive for the spending outlook as the country nears its traditional period of frenzied holiday shopping.

A key measure of retail sales, which account for about one third of consumer spending, snapped back from a weak September, buoyed by bigger receipts for clothing and sporting goods.

Economists said that suggested fundamental strength even as a drop in gasoline prices held the gain in overall sales to just 0.3 percent. Receipts at gasoline stations dropped 1.5 percent.

“(The) numbers bode well for the crucial holiday shopping season,” said Paul Diggle, an economist at Capital Economics in London. Americans turn their shopping into overdrive in late November ahead of December’s Christmas holiday.

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