Commerce Department report

Retail Sales Up 1.1% in September

Americans stepped up their spending at retail businesses in September, reflecting their growing confidence in the economy. Retail sales rose 1.1 percent last month, the Commerce Department said. That followed a 1.2 percent increase in August. Both were the largest gains since October 2010.

Builders Start More Single-Family Homes; Permit Requests Surge

U.S. builders started work on more single-family homes in May and requested the most permits to build homes and apartments in three and a half years. The increase suggests the housing market is slowly recovering even as other areas of the economy have weakened.

Unemployment Aid Applications Rise to 386,000

More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, suggesting hiring remains sluggish. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly unemployment benefit applications rose 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000.

Coming to America: U.S. Cities Attract More Global Tourists

Nearly 60 million foreigners visited the U.S. in 2010. Where did they go? The most popular destinations included New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. The Big Apple is particularly appealing, drawing a record 48.7 million, big-spending foreign tourists.

Retail Sales: November Stole the Show from December

U.S. shoppers piled up the presents under their Christmas trees, but retailers were still a bit disappointed by their holiday haul. The Commerce Department's official tally shows what many suspected: Consumers took care of most of their shopping in November this year.

Record Corporate Profits Are Coming Out of Workers' Hides

The Commerce Department reports that U.S. corporate profits have hit historic highs, so why isn't the GOP -- the party of business -- celebrating? After all, those profits are coming not from revenue growth -- which would benefit workers and executives -- but from cost cutting.

Retail Is Hoping for a Mildly Merry Christmas

The third-quarter earnings season got off to a mildly optimistic start for retailers, with department stores expecting the colder weather will heat up holiday sales, even as shoppers continue to seek cheap deals and generally hold back on spending.

Economic Growth Revised Lower for Second Quarter

U.S. economic growth slowed to an anemic 1.6% pace in the second quarter, due primarily to a worsening trade imbalance. The sole ray of light in the Commerce Department's report was that the downward revision was not as severe as economists had expected.

Mixed News on Construction Spending

Boosted by the government's fiscal stimulus, construction spending unexpectedly rose 0.1% in June, the Commerce Department said. However, June's mild good news was offset by a large, downward revision to a 1% spending decline from a previously-announced 0.2% decline for May.