U.S. consumer 'healthy'; pent-up demand for services -investor

STORY: U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in October as households stepped up purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, suggesting consumer spending picked up early in the fourth quarter, which could help to support the economy.

The solid retail sales reported by the Commerce Department on Wednesday and signs of a slowdown in inflation raised cautious optimism the economy could avoid an anticipated recession next year or experience only a mild downturn.