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Consumers spend and earn more, layoffs slow

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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans earned more and spent more last month, and the number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in more than two years. At the same time, demand for long-lasting manufactured goods fell off.

All told, the latest government data released the day before Thanksgiving suggest an improving picture of the economy. Income and spending are rising, and layoffs are slowing. This comes amid a decline in manufacturing activity, which had been a source of strength for months after the recession ended.

"The flurry of U.S. data this morning suggests that households have started to pickup the baton of growth from businesses," said Paul Dales, U.S. economist at Capital Economics. "Whether or not households will be able to shoulder the burden of growth on their own is another matter."

Investors appeared to be pleased by the data. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed nearly 100 points in the first hour of trading.

Consumers boosted their spending 0.4 percent in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was up from a 0.3 percent increase in September.


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