At the same time, auto dealers experienced a rebound in November sales after Sandy. The annualized industrywide sales rate of cars and light trucks, adjusted for seasonal trends, rose to 15.5 million last month, the best monthly pace since February 2008, according to Ward’s Automotive Group.
Apart from the storm, consumer confidence has been on the rise in the U.S., which could lift demand for services. The Conference Board’s sentiment index climbed this month to the highest level since February 2008, a report showed last week.
Households felt good enough to head to shopping centers on Black Friday weekend. Retail sales rose 13 percent to $59.1 billion in the four days starting Nov. 22 after a 16 percent increase in the similar period last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
A stronger housing market will also help drive the non- manufacturing sector. Construction spending climbed almost three times more than forecast in October. Homebuilder confidence rose to a six-year high in November, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence, released Nov. 19.
“Consumers are feeling good, housing is rebounding, and we remain confident that there’ll be a resolution in Washington,” Kurt McNeil, General Motors CO. vice president of sales operations, said during a teleconference on Dec. 3.
Faster payroll growth may be the key to unlocking greater sales and confidence gains.
Another report today showed employment cooled in November, restrained by Sandy. Companies added 118,000 workers after a revised 157,000 gain, according to Roseland, New Jersey-based ADP Research Institute. The report indicated that the storm reduced payrolls by about 86,000.