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Sandy Holds Back US Consumer Spending, Pay In Oct.

The saving rate edged up slightly to 3.4 percent of after-tax income in October, compared with 3.3 percent in September.

Many economists say growth will rebound in the New Year once the rebuilding phase begins in the Northeast.

And if President Barack Obama and Congress can reach a budget deal to avert to fiscal cliff, some economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, are predicting a strong year for the economy.

Still, the storm's impact has slowed sales in the nation's most densely populated region ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season.

The International Council of Shopping Centers said 18 major retailers reported sales rose 1.7 percent in November compared with the same period a year ago. The group had been expecting sales growth between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent.

The economic damage from the storm may be starting to fade, though. Retailers are reporting solid sales over the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend.

And applications for unemployment benefits have fallen from an 18-month high in the first week of November. That surge was driven by applications in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Still, the increase in unemployment applications earlier this month will likely depress job growth for November. Many economists predict that net job growth for November will range between 25,000 and 75,000 â¿¿ well below the 171,000 jobs that were added in October.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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