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US economic data points to 'real momentum' for 2024, White House says

Published 12/31/2023, 10:40 AM
Updated 12/31/2023, 10:45 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Holiday shoppers pack the seasonal Bryant Park Winter Village beneath a large Christmas tree in midtown Manhattan, in New York City, U.S., December 15, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

By Andrea Shalal

(Reuters) - Higher consumer spending over the holiday season, real wage gains over the last nine months and a jump in consumer confidence point to a good start for 2024, said Jared Bernstein, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers on Sunday.

Bernstein told "Fox News Sunday" that President Joe Biden would continue to focus on lowering costs for Americans if he won a second term in the November 2024 presidential election.

"If you actually look at the trend in the economy ... I think you see some real momentum getting us in a good start for the new year," Bernstein said.

U.S. consumer confidence increased to a five-month high in December, the Conference Board reported on Dec. 20, mirroring a nearly 14% increase in the University of Michigan's benchmark Consumer Sentiment Index, its biggest jump in more than three decades. For most of Biden's term, the Michigan index has reflected widespread pessimism among households about the economy, but the new data showed Americans' growing confidence that inflation was finally trending lower.

Michigan survey director Joanne Hsu noted the upswing in December reversed "all declines from the previous four months. These trends are rooted in substantial improvements in how consumers view the trajectory of inflation."

Indeed, inflation has eased substantially over the course of 2023. The Labor Department's Consumer Price Index began the year with annual price increases averaging 6.4%. By November, that was down to 3.1%. Bernstein noted that gasoline was below $3 a gallon in more than half the states.

The U.S. national average retail gasoline price could drop by 13 cents next year to $3.38 a gallon, a second straight year of dropping fuel costs, according to price tracker's annual outlook.

"This has been a very strong Christmas season," Bernstein said, adding that spending at restaurants rose 8% from Nov. 1 to Christmas Eve, with spending on online sales up 6%, with overall retail spending rising 3%.

Despite the growing optimism, the Biden administration says it remains alert to geopolitical risks, including Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine, which has the potential to disrupt grain markets and push up inflation again.

In the Middle East, Israel predicts its war with Hamas militants will last for months, increasing the risk of regional escalation. In the Red Sea, attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen have disrupted world trade. Maersk, one of the world's major cargo shippers, on Sunday said it would pause all sailing through the Red Sea for 48 hours after a Houthi attack on one of its container vessels.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Holiday shoppers pack the seasonal Bryant Park Winter Village beneath a large Christmas tree in midtown Manhattan, in New York City, U.S., December 15, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Bernstein also cited big gains in the startup of new businesses, especially by people of color, which he said reflected more optimism and confidence about the U.S. economy.

Bernstein said the Biden administration was keeping an eye on rising credit card debt but saw it as a return to normal levels of delinquencies or debt levels. Record increases in wealth among Americans of all income levels and among people of color would also help offset the increases, he said.

Latest comments

January will be the good for stock
Vote Biden out of the office to save America!
if you want to destroy American democracy then vote stinky Trump the man who has told America he wants to be dictator.
ming must be one of Stinky's buddies from the Chinese communist party. stinky after all got the Chinese state banks to give him 400 million in forgiveness for his loans.
Time to sell everything
Taking investment advice from the White House. LOL
well he didnt say what you should do! confidence doesnt mean stock gains.
well he didnt say what you should do! confidence doesnt mean stock gains and vice versa at least.
Wonderful news to ring in the New Year! Way to go 👏 President Biden. This is all the evidence Americans need to vote for him again in 2024. He is sane, measured, based in REALITY, and an honest Statesman.
Our debt is at its highest all time and credit is is also at its worse all time how is that good? And prices are still rising with no significant change
Trump added nearly 8T to the deficit in his 4yr term. Dont you think that had something to do with this? More than any other Pres
Roberta is as senile as Brandon
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