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Healthy Consumers to Help U.S. Economy Endure Ailing Factories

  • Buying-climate gauge hits record high; manufacturing drops
  • Persistent factory weakness could eventually spill over
Residential Construction As Housing Starts Figures Released
Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

The contrast between healthy consumers and ailing factories was on full display in the latest round of U.S. economic data, suggesting that the record-long expansion will hold up -- for now -- despite weakness in manufacturing.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index’s gauge of the buying climate rose last week to a record in figures going back to 1985, while more homebuilding permits than analysts projected were issued in September. But manufacturing output fell last month by more than forecast, depressed by the General Motors Co. autoworkers strike, and factory activity in the Philadelphia region was the weakest in four months.