Weekly jobless claims fell sharply while retail sales rose in November in a sign that steady job creation is adding momentum to consumer spending in the fourth quarter.
Producer prices also fell amid a drop in petroleum costs.
Sales rose 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 0.5 percent.
A separate measure of sales that strips out automobiles, gasoline and building materials rose a more healthy 0.5 percent.
More frustration for forecast extremists. The data is okay, not great. Nowhere near terrible.
The choppiness continues.