U.S. Consumer Sentiment Dropped Slightly, but Still Close to Highest Levels in 15 Yrs.

The University of Michigan's preliminary index of consumer sentiment fell to 92.3, from 93.6 in October, a level that was the highest since July 2005. Before today, the measure had averaged 88.1 since monthly data were first compiled in 1978. (via Bloomberg)

Confidence among U.S. consumers stayed close to the highest level in 15 months in November, supported by cheap gasoline and an expanding labor market, with the lowest unemployment rate in five years.

The Michigan index was expected to be unchanged, according to the median estimate of 57 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Forecasts ranged from 87 to 97. The median forecast of Wall Street economists polled by Reuters was for a reading of 93.6. The index fell in six of the 10 months through October.

Wholesale Trade:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that September 2006 sales of merchant wholesalers, were $330.2 billion, down 1.2% from the revised August level, but were up 8.1% from the September 2005 level. 

September sales of durable goods decreased 0.3% from last month, but were up 9.0% from a year ago. Compared to last month, sales of lumber and other construction materials were down 4.0 percent, while sales of metals and minerals, except petroleum, increased 2.6 percent. September sales of nondurable goods were down 2.0% from last month, but were up 7.3% from last year. Sales of petroleum and petroleum products decreased 7.1% from last month.

Total inventories of merchant wholesalers were $390.3 billion at the end of September, up 0.8% from last month and were up 9.9% from a year ago. The September inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers was 1.18, compared to the September 2005 ratio of 1.16.

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