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Consumers still spending despite economic worries

A shopper carries a Macy's bag in San Francisco, Calif.

Jeremy Hobson: Here in this country, there are some very strong earnings coming in from all kinds of big companies this morning. And that's where we'll start with Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones. She's with us live from St. Louis. Good morning.

Kate Warne: Good morning.

Hobson: Well Kate, let's start with Macy's this morning, which said its profits were up 38 percent last quarter and I'm wondering how can that be given all of the things weighing on American consumers -- high among them gas prices?

Warne: Well you're absolutely right. There are many things weighing on people, but overall their confidence is improving and as a result they've been out at the mall shopping. I think Macy's really benefitted from the fact that consumers had slightly higher incomes than last year, things are improving, and as a result they've been at the stores.

Hobson: What about Toyota? We also heard from Toyota today, which said its profits quadrupled last quarter.

Warne: Absolutely. If you think back to a year ago Toyota, of course, was affected by the Japanese tsunami/earthquake and production shutdown. So don't pay too much attention to the quadrupling of profits, but I think its great news that Toyota's back to a normal level of sales. And that also reflects that consumers are out buying autos. We've seen strong auto sales across the board -- good news for the consumer, good news for Toyota.

Hobson: And finally what Disney? We heard from this them profits were up 21 percent despite the fact that there's that big flop called "John Carter."

Warne: Yes. Not every film does well, but the good news for Disney was that it was broad-based sales growth at the theme parks, resorts, TV networks, ESPN, and of course Disney. Basically what we saw was really good sales that brought up profits. I think it also reminds us that content is key. Disney provides a lot of content. Never count that out, even though some of the films won't do too well.

Hobson: Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones, thanks so much.

Warne: Thank you.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.
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I wouldn't necessarily link increased spending with an increase in consumer confidence or an increase in income. I know few if any people getting raises these days. Some consumers could be just now getting a bit more credit built up on their credit cards or could be finally getting new credit cards after being furgal for the last couple years. It's also possible that the public is retaliating against depression and apathy by going on spending sprees.

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