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Confident consumers give retail sales a lift

Oct. 16, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- Americans spent more money at retailers in September -- a buying surge that reflected growing consumer confidence and the launch of the latest iPhone.

Retail sales jumped 1.1 percent last month, producing the best two months of sales in two years, according to figures released Monday by the Commerce Department.

"The consumer is back," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors. "They are not spending money like it is going out of style, but they are spending at a more normal pace that is consistent with a moderately growing economy."

The spike in spending could boost sluggish growth and help revitalize President Barack Obama's campaign after a strong debate performance by challenger Mitt Romney.

The increase comes only 10 days after a report that unemployment fell to its lowest level since Obama took office. And it follows a survey last week by the University of Michigan that showed consumer confidence rose in early October to a five-year high.

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