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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers ramped up spending in November on cars, appliances and furniture and made more purchases online, signaling growing confidence in the economy during the holiday shopping season.

The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.7 percent, the biggest gain in five months. October's figure was also revised higher to 0.6 percent. Two straight months of healthy sales suggests steady hiring is encouraging Americans to spend more this holiday season, particularly on big-ticket items. Auto sales jumped 1.8 percent and furniture purchases rose 1.2 percent. Excluding the volatile categories of autos, gas and building materials, sales rose a solid 0.5 percent in November. Americans also are shifting more spending to online and catalog retailers. Online and catalog sales rose 2.2 percent last month, the most in nearly 18 months.


 

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