U.S. Retail Sales Probably Rose in November

Retail sales probably climbed in November as Americans bought more new cars and began their holiday shopping, helping to bolster the expansion heading into 2012, economists said before a report today.

The 0.6 percent gain in sales would follow a 0.5 percent October increase, according to the median forecast of 83 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Purchases excluding autos rose 0.4 percent after a 0.6 percent advance, the survey showed.

A drop in joblessness and rebound in stock prices may help households maintain spending after they set a record at the start of the holiday shopping season, known as Black Friday. The resiliency of the consumer gives Federal Reserve policy makers meeting today less reason to inject more stimulus into the economy.

“It looks like consumers have been slowly coming out of hibernation,” said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies & Co. in New York. “The Fed should be encouraged the economy is doing a little better, but it’s still fragile, and unemployment is still unacceptably high.”

The Commerce Department’s sales figures are due at 8:30 a.m. in Washington. Economists’ estimates ranged from gains of 0.2 percent to 1.1 percent.

Spending during the Thanksgiving weekend jumped 9.1 percent per customer from a year earlier to $398.62, according to the National Retail Federation. Sales totaled a record $52.4 billion. For all of November, same-store sales for the more than 20 companies tracked by researcher Retail Metrics Inc. rose a combined 3.2 percent.

“We were positive throughout the month going into Thanksgiving and it only got better from there,” Timothy Johnson, senior vice president of finance at retailer Big Lots Inc. (BIG), said during a Dec. 2 earnings call. “We feel about as good as we can with the positive performance to begin, but also the acceleration, meaningful acceleration, we saw.”

The Standard & Poor’s Supercomposite Retailing Index has recovered from a plunge in stock values during October faster than S&P 500 Index. It rose 0.9 percent from Oct. 31 through last week, while the broader market gained 0.2 percent.

An improving labor market may help sustain the gains in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. Payrolls climbed by 120,000 workers in November, and the jobless rate fell to 8.6 percent, the lowest since March 2009, from 9 percent, Labor Department figures showed Dec. 2.

Confidence among consumers has also brightened. The Conference Board’s index surged last month by the most since April 2003. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of sentiment rose in December to a six-month high.

Car and light truck sales also advanced in November, climbing to a 13.6 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate, the best month since August 2009, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

Retail purchases excluding automobiles and service stations may have increased 0.4 percent last month after rising 0.7 percent in October, economists said.

With consumer spending picking up, inflation moderating and the labor market starting to thaw, the central bank may refrain from adopting new measures to bolster expansion. The Federal Open Market Committee will issue a statement at 2:15 p.m. with any updated outlook on the economy.

Also today, a report from the Commerce Department at 10 a.m. may show inventories at U.S. businesses increased 0.8 percent in October after no change a month earlier, according to the Bloomberg survey median.

                    Bloomberg Survey

====================================================
                            Retail   Retail Business
                             Sales ex-autos     Inv.
                              MOM%     MOM%     MOM%
====================================================

Date of Release              12/13    12/13    12/13
Observation Period            Nov.     Nov.     Oct.
----------------------------------------------------
Median                        0.6%     0.4%     0.8%
Average                       0.6%     0.4%     0.7%
High Forecast                 1.1%     0.8%     1.2%
Low Forecast                  0.2%     0.1%     0.1%
Number of Participants          83       75       47
Previous                      0.5%     0.6%     0.0%
----------------------------------------------------
4CAST                         0.6%     0.4%     ---
ABN Amro                      0.5%     ---      ---
Action Economics              0.6%     0.5%     0.9%
Aletti Gestielle              0.5%     0.4%     ---
Ameriprise Financial          0.5%     0.4%     0.9%
Banca Aletti                  0.6%     0.5%     ---
Banesto                       0.6%     ---      0.4%
Bantleon Bank AG              0.7%     0.5%     ---
Barclays Capital              0.5%     0.2%     1.0%
Bayerische Landesbank         0.6%     0.4%     0.7%
BBVA                          0.5%     0.4%     1.0%
BMO Capital Markets           0.7%     0.4%     0.5%
BNP Paribas                   0.6%     0.3%     0.3%
BofA Merrill Lynch            0.5%     0.3%     ---
Briefing.com                  0.8%     0.6%     0.9%
Capital Economics             0.6%     0.5%     0.8%
CIBC World Markets            0.5%     0.5%     ---
Citi                          0.3%     0.1%     1.0%
ClearView Economics           0.8%     0.5%     0.3%
Comerica                      0.9%     0.6%     0.4%
Credit Suisse                 0.5%     0.4%     0.9%
Daiwa Securities America      0.5%     0.4%     1.0%
Danske Bank                   0.5%     0.4%     ---
DekaBank                      0.7%     0.5%     0.9%
Desjardins Group              0.5%     0.3%     0.8%
Deutsche Bank Securities      0.4%     0.4%     0.8%
Deutsche Postbank AG          0.7%     0.8%     ---
DZ Bank                       0.7%     0.6%     ---
Exane                         0.7%     0.5%     ---
Fact & Opinion Economics      0.7%     0.6%     0.8%
First Trust Advisors          0.2%     0.3%     0.9%
FTN Financial                 0.8%     0.6%     ---
Goldman, Sachs & Co.          0.5%     0.1%     ---
Helaba                        0.6%     0.4%     0.3%
High Frequency Economics      0.5%     0.2%     0.7%
HSBC Markets                  0.3%     0.3%     ---
Hugh Johnson Advisors         0.8%     0.6%     0.1%
IDEAglobal                    0.6%     0.4%     0.5%
IHS Global Insight            0.5%     0.4%     ---
Informa Global Markets        0.5%     0.2%     0.4%
ING Financial Markets         0.8%     0.6%     0.4%
Insight Economics             0.8%     0.6%     0.9%
Intesa-SanPaulo               0.7%     0.5%     ---
J.P. Morgan Chase             0.6%     0.3%     0.9%
Janney Montgomery Scott       0.5%     0.3%     0.6%
Jefferies & Co.               1.1%     0.8%     0.8%
Landesbank Berlin             0.4%     0.2%     1.0%
Landesbank BW                 0.4%     ---      ---
Market Securities             0.5%     ---      ---
MET Capital Advisors          0.6%     ---      ---
Moody’s Analytics             0.5%     0.4%     0.9%
Morgan Keegan & Co.           0.6%     0.5%     0.3%
Morgan Stanley & Co.          0.2%     0.2%     0.9%
National Bank Financial       0.6%     0.5%     ---
Natixis                       0.6%     0.4%     ---
Newedge                       0.7%     0.5%     ---
Nomura Securities             0.4%     0.3%     ---
Nord/LB                       0.5%     0.5%     ---
OSK Group/DMG                 0.5%     0.2%     ---
O’Sullivan                    0.6%     0.4%     0.9%
Parthenon Group               0.8%     0.5%     0.4%
Pierpont Securities           0.3%     0.1%     ---
PineBridge Investments        0.3%     0.2%     0.7%
PNC Bank                      0.6%     0.4%     0.2%
Prestige Economics            0.5%     0.4%     ---
Raiffeisenbank International  0.6%     0.5%     ---
Raymond James                 0.9%     0.6%     0.9%
RBC Capital Markets           0.7%     0.5%     ---
RBS Securities                0.6%     0.4%     ---
Scotia Capital                0.7%     0.5%     ---
Societe Generale              0.5%     0.2%     1.2%
Standard Chartered            0.4%     0.3%     ---
State Street Global Markets   0.5%     0.3%     0.7%
Stone & McCarthy Research     0.5%     0.1%     1.0%
TD Securities                 0.5%     0.2%     0.7%
UBS                           0.5%     0.4%     0.9%
UniCredit Research            0.6%     ---      ---
Union Investment              0.5%     ---      ---
University of Maryland        0.6%     0.5%     0.5%
Wells Fargo & Co.             0.4%     0.5%     0.7%
WestLB AG                     0.6%     0.5%     ---
Westpac Banking Co.           0.5%     ---      ---
Wrightson ICAP                0.3%     0.1%     1.0%
====================================================

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Kowalski in Washington at akowalski13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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