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U.S. Consumers Stick to Cautious Track

Wall Street Journal (05/13/15) Jeffrey Sparshott

Although job creation is steady, consumer confidence is on the rise, and fuel is cheap, U.S. consumers remain wary. Retail sales barely budged in April and have been down or flat during four of the last five months. Instead of spending, Americans are saving money and paying down debt. Economic output estimates for the second quarter are being revised down by a variety of experts. However, 2014 also got off to a weak start but then experienced a sharp rebound.

“The disappearance of consumer spending in early 2015 has now become even more mysterious, as some of the excuses shopped around earlier, like bad weather, are looking more stretched with the passage of time,” says Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.