Consumers have been upbeat lately, according to the University of Michigan sentiment survey. Economic fundamentals — like low unemployment, a strong job market, and an uptick in wages — are driving near record-high optimism. But there are other things consumers may be considering as they start to think about holiday purchases: recent stock market volatility, trade tensions, rising interest rates. The stock market gyrations that have erased much of the year’s gains may dampen consumer confidence, especially in upper-income households, although those are also the people who probably saw the biggest gains from recent tax cuts. For other Americans, a rise in gas prices could weigh on spending decisions. Last year, holiday sales were strong, up more than 5 percent from 2016.
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