Retail sales were up in July by the most they’ve been in four months, a sign that consumers in general remain confident despite lagging employment, according to the Commerce Department.

The positive news gave investors on Wall Street a boost in confidence too, helping push the stock market to strong early gains on Friday.

But it is still much too soon to celebrate the economy, especially with officials at the Federal Reserve voicing concern that household spending has “flattened out,” something that has never happened outside a recession. –BF

Bloomberg News:

The gain in spending is “pretty relieving,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. “The upward revisions suggest that the trajectory of consumer spending heading into the third quarter wasn’t as bad as previously thought.”

Stock-index futures extended earlier gains after the report. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.8 percent to 1,178 at 8:42 a.m. in New York. Treasury securities also climbed, sending the yield on the benchmark 10-year note down to 2.29 percent from 2.34 percent late [Thursday].

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