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‘Late surge’ seen in US holiday shopping

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NEW YORK — US retailers were hoping for bumper Christmas sales to ignite modest consumer spending, and there were fresh signs on Tuesday that they might get it, thanks to an apparent late shopping surge.

MasterCard reported consumer spending had jumped 5.5 percent in the 50 days before Christmas compared with the same period a year earlier, as retailers reported a late spending spree.

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“If last year’s holiday story was about gaining some stability, this year?s is about getting back to growth,” said Michael McNamara of SpendingPulse, which tracks data for MasterCard.

The figures — which exclude auto sales — offer hope for retailers battered by the downturn and for the broader economy, which remains highly dependent on consumer spending.

McNamara noted strong growth for jewelry, apparel, luxury and furniture goods.

Online retailers were helped by poor weather in the mid-west and the western United States.

Meanwhile Michael Niemira of the International Council of Shopping Centers said a late boom in spending had helped buoy sales.

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“That last-minute holiday spending lift was aided by consumers who had more money as a result of the improving economy, more time as a result of the Friday holiday (with Christmas on Saturday, the federal holiday was observed a day earlier) and more holiday-season excitement than in many years.”


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CNN

‘Set up for failure’: CNN’s Camerota speculates Pence is about to become Trump’s coronavirus fall guy

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday appointed Vice President Mike Pence to oversee the federal government's response to the coronavirus outbreak -- but CNN's Alisyn Camerota said that the president may have given the VP an impossible task.

Reacting to the news that Pence would be the point man for the government's efforts to contain the virus, Camerota said that it might be too late to really get a handle on a situation that is already highly likely to do real damage to both public health and the economy.

"It seemed Vice President Pence may be set up for failure," she said. "Not intentionally, but how is he going to get his arms around this?"

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2020 Election

Bloomberg’s 2020 chances are crumbling — and he may be accidentally helping Bernie Sanders

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With a gargantuan fortune, a history of running the largest American city, and no shortage of self-confidence, Michael Bloomberg rocketed himself to become a commanding presence in the 2020 Democratic primary with a massive wave of ad spending in key states, posing a real threat to top candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. But after two dismal performances on the debate stage, Bloomberg’s star seems to be falling — perhaps proving that even great wealth can’t buy you charisma or a presidential nomination.

We shouldn’t write any premature political obituaries, of course, as any number of unforeseen events can shake up a race. But it does appear that Bloomberg’s sudden ascent may have been an overinflated bubble ready to pop as soon as he faced some real public scrutiny. And ironically, Bloomberg’s position in the race may actually be having the opposite effect of his stated goal: thwarting Sanders’s shot at the nomination.

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Nervous Democrats hoping the Obamas will save the party from Bernie Sanders

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Nervous Democrats are hoping former President Barack Obama will step in and rescue the party from Bernie Sanders.

A number of top Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, fear the Vermont senator will be demolished if he wins the nomination and will hand President Donald Trump another four-year term, reported the New York Times.

“People are worried,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. “How you can spend four or five months hoping you don’t have to put a bumper sticker from that guy on your car.”

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