Before the turkey, several helpings of news that could leave us thankful

Thanksgiving Day is nearly upon us, but economy watchers have plenty of meaty economic news to digest before they sit down to their holiday dinner.
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Thanksgiving Day is nearly upon us, but economy watchers have plenty of meaty economic news to digest before they sit down to their holiday dinner.

Double helpings of housing and consumer confidence data are among the government and private releases packed into a short week that will end Wednesday, just ahead of the holiday and the Black Friday shopping weekend.

Business Insider reports that the Federal Reserve will closely watch the data released this week as the central bank decides whether its Dec. 15-16 meeting is the right time for the interest-rate increase that it has been signaling is on the way.

"The data, I think, have been overall encouraging, especially on the labor market," San Francisco Fed President John Williams told reporters on Saturday after a conference at the University of California Berkeley's Clausen Center.

"Assuming that we continue to get good data on the economy, continue to get signs that we are moving closer to achieving our goals and gaining confidence getting back to 2 percent inflation ... if that continues to happen, there's a strong case to be made in December to raise rates."

On Monday the National Association of Realtors said home resales fell 3.4 percent in October, to an annual rate of 5.36 million units, from 5.55 million in September. Despite the decline, sales are still 3.9 percent above a year earlier (5.16 million), the trade group said.

"New and existing-home supply has struggled to improve so far this fall, leading to few choices for buyers and no easement of the ongoing affordability concerns still prevalent in some markets," Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist, said in a statement. "Furthermore, the mixed signals of slowing economic growth and volatility in the financial markets slightly tempered demand and contributed to the decreasing pace of sales."

"This is the same pattern of tight inventory and low first-time buyers that we've seen for several years now. We're up nicely on units and price from a year ago, so the market is in good position to improve steadily from here," Stephen Phillips, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Irvine, Calif., told Reuters.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department will report on new-home sales for October. The consensus forecast is for sales of 500,000, up from 468,000 in October. New-home sales are a better barometer of the market than existing-home sales because they get tallied when deals are signed. Home resales get counted only after the deals close.

Today, the Conference Board will release its Consumer Confidence Index for November, and the consensus forecast is for an improvement to 100, from 97.6 in October.

On Wednesday, the University of Michigan will release its final consumer sentiment index for November. The preliminary index for the month, released two weeks ago, was 93.1, up from a final October reading of 90.

Other reports set for release on Wednesday include personal income, consumer spending and core inflation for October. Consensus estimates are that income will be up 0.4 percent and spending will be up 0.3 percent, rising faster than they did in September, and that inflation will be up 0.1 percent, the same as in September.

If the income and spending forecasts prove correct, the New York Times said, they suggest that fourth-quarter growth could be reasonably strong and they provide another piece of evidence for policy-makers at the Fed who believe the economy is strong enough to withstand an increase in interest rates.

Lastly, durable goods orders are forecast to have increased 2.1 percent in October, rebounding from a 1.2 percent decrease the previous month.

“Many of the headwinds facing the U.S. economy impact the factory sector particularly strongly, including the stronger dollar, slower global growth and soft commodity prices,” John Silvia, of Wells Fargo, said in the Business Insider report.

“New orders fell on a year-over-year basis in September and shipments were barely in positive territory. That said, much of the negative impact from these headwinds might be behind us. Although we expect continued dollar appreciation, our currency strategy team expects a more measured pace of gains moving forward."

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