big-ticket items

Robust Retail Sales Lift Merchants' Holiday Spirits

The holiday shopping season is off to an even better-than-expected start. New government figures show November totals rose 0.8% from October and 7.7% from November 2009, supporting retailers' recent view that the recession is finally losing its hold on shoppers.

Factory Orders Rise, but Not as Much as Expected

Factory orders rose just 0.1% in July, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Thursday in a report that further clarified that the manufacturing sector's expansion slowed down this summer. While the statistic did indicate tepid growth, it was less than the 0.3% gain economists had predicted.