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Americans may hold off on major spending through first half of 2012

Jan 08, 2012 Philip Burgess

Consumer spending may proceed at a tepid pace in January, as skepticism over the extent of the holiday shopping season and general market uncertainty seems to be restraining Americans' financial decisions health. The economy itself grew by only 1.8 percent in the third quarter. While economists expect fourth quarter GDP growth to exceed 3 percent, the first half of 2012 is not likely to surpass 2 percent. Since consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy, analysts look to trouble in the sector to gauge forecasts. Meanwhile, consumer spending barely exceeded 1 percent in the third quarter, according to the Commerce Department "For consumers, the reasons for the sluggishness are clear: Incomes are essentially flat, job growth is modest, and more than 40 percent of the new jobs in the last two years have been in low-paying sectors like retail and hospitality," report Motoko Rich and Stephanie Clifford for The New York Times. With such uncertain conditions, lenders and mortgage brokers are likely to leverage background checks and credit reports to inform their mortgage and credit decisions.