US Indexes Firm at Session's Half; Consumer Sentiment at Highest Since June
Stocks are higher in mid-day trading as investors cheer the European leaders' move to forge closer fiscal ties in an effort to address the continent's debt crisis. Meanwhile, U.S purchases in overseas markets fell to the lowest level since April, thanks to declining demand for crude.
First, consumers have a more positive outlook, according to a gauge of consumer sentiment that reached 67.7 in a preliminary December reading. That compares with 64.1 in November, according to data from the University of Michigan / Thomson Reuters survey. The December reading is the highest since June.
Across the pond, European leaders were unable to secure the backing of all 27 EU members for treaty changes. As a result, the 17 euro-zone nations plus six others will participate in a new inter-governmental agreement on tougher fiscal rules. Britain has already announced that it will not be participating; whereas Hungary, Sweden and the Czech Republic have yet to commit.
The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed by 1.6% in October to $43.5 billion. The deficit has narrowed for four straight months to the lowest monthly trade gap this year. Underlying the report was a sharp upward revision to the trade deficit in September to $44.2 billion from the initial estimate of $43.1 billion. The October trade deficit was close to the consensus forecast of Wall Street economists of $43.6 billion.
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