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The Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated further from the elusive 20,000 milestone, losing its drive ahead of the Christmas break.  US stocks are trading without much direction as we get closer to Christmas on very low trading volume.
 
The U.S. economy grew faster than previously thought between July and September, its best performance in two years, buoyed by stronger consumer spending, the government reported Thursday.  The Commerce Department said the economy expanded at a seasonally adjusted 3.5% annualized rate in the third quarter. This is above the government’s prior estimate of 3.2% due to upward revisions in consumer spending and business investment.
 
U.S. jobless claims jumped to the highest level since mid-June, the government said Thursday.  The Labor Department said jobless claims in the week ending Dec. 17 rose a seasonally adjusted 21,000 to 275,000. Economists had expected claims of 258,000.
 
Consumer spending growth in November slowed as incomes stagnated, and following several strong months of spending gains.  Personal incomes were unchanged for the month, and outlays rose 0.2%, the Commerce Department said Thursday.  The government also reported that inflation was unchanged in November. The median forecast among economists in a MarketWatch survey was for a 0.1% monthly increase.

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