The plunge in oil prices is proving to be an unmistakable boon for U.S. households. The benefits for companies are less evident.
Consumer confidence soared in January to the highest level in more than seven years as Americans took heart in an improving labor market, prospects for higher earnings and falling gasoline prices, according to figures from the New-York based Conference Board Tuesday. Orders for durable goods unexpectedly fell 3.4 percent in December, signaling a global growth slowdown is weighing on manufacturers, another report showed, amid a decline in some company earnings triggered by a surging dollar .
The share of workers saying that jobs were plentiful and incomes would rise were the highest of the current expansion, brightening the outlook for consumer spending. At the same time, the slump in fuel prices is probably curbing demand for oil-drilling equipment, hurting companies such as Caterpillar Inc. just as slackening demand from overseas and a firming dollar also take a toll.
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