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Report: Consumer confidence unexpectedly up in October

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — A report released Friday by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan found that consumer confidence in the United States rose unexpectedly in October, a signal that an economic recovery process may still be intact.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment climbed to 60.9 from 59.4 in September, beating Bloomberg News economists’ projections of a drop to 58.

The preliminary reading for the month was 57.5.

Relief from plummeting stocks and rising gas prices has left Americans feeling more uplifted than in recent months, raising hopes that the collective good mood will spur more holiday spending.

“Consumers are not throwing caution to the winds, but their mood has lifted slightly from the recession-type readings late this summer,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York City, who forecast a reading of 60. “The stock market is sharply higher and the consumer is back in a spending mind frame.”

Estimates for the confidence measure ranged from 55 to 60, according to the Bloomberg survey. The index averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began in December 2007.

Commerce Department figures showed that spending increased in September by 0.6%, after a 0.2% gain the prior month.

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Toy imports dip 9% in U.S. despite approaching holidays

BY Staff Writer

Newark, N.J. — A report released Friday by the Journal of Commerce/PIERS showed that U.S. toy imports dropped 9% year-over-year in September, as the country’s retailers apparently chose caution heading into the 2011 holiday season.

The drop in container volume, most of it from China, was the eighth straight for toys coming into the United States and a strong sign that the nation’s stores are concerned with figures showing waning consumer confidence and opting to keep inventories lean rather than face deep-discount sales.

The 60,616 twenty-foot-equivalent units arriving at ports in September, according to measurements by PIERS, marked a 7.6% year-to-date drop – or 30,430 fewer containers – from the same period last year.

"There is a strong inverse correlation between toys imports volume (in 20-ft. equivalent units) and toys import prices over the last seven years," said Mario O. Moreno, economist for the Journal of Commerce/PIERS. "When toys import prices increase, the tendency for demand is to decline … 74% of the time."

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Target starts Black Friday earlier, extends holiday hours

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS — Target is getting an early jump on Black Friday this year, announcing that it will open its stores at midnight on Nov. 25.

“The holidays bring hectic schedules and tight budgets, so extending store hours and offering lots of additional ways to save makes Target a great choice for affordable, one-stop holiday shopping,” said Tina Schiel, EVP stores for Target.

In addition to opening at midnight on Black Friday, Target said it is also extending store hours throughout the season. On Black Friday and the day after Christmas (Dec. 26), stores will be open until 11 p.m. On Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), stores will remain open until 7 or 8 p.m., depending on the location.

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