The Return of the American Consumer

by: Market Blog

By Simon Avery

It looks like the U.S. consumer may not become an extinct species after all.

Much of the strength in U.S. stocks Thursday is coming from retailers after the sector reported sales for August that topped expectations.

A lot of the spending was fuelled by discounts and tax holidays, leading some to question how sustainable consumer activity really is.

Same-store sales at 30 chains appear to have risen by 3.5% last month, Ken Perkins, president of the market research firm Retail Metrics Inc., told Bloomberg News.

With unemployment numbers still stubbornly high and consumer confidence still shaky, analysts will be watching retailers' inventory levels closely to see whether the up-tick in sales activity is just a blip.

But Thursday at least, luxury stores to discount chains are enjoying the favour of investors.

Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) shares lead gains on the S&P 500, up 8%. Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) shares have risen 4%, Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) is up 3%, as are Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Walgreen Co.(WAG) Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) shares have climbed 1%.

Disclosure: None