The mixed messages about the state of the US economic recovery just keep coming.

With two weeks until the presidential election, retail sales figures for September gave George W Bush a welcome surprise, rising by 1.5% from August and 7.7% from a year ago. Car buyers have been especially busy.

However, Michigan University's respected consumer confidence survey belies the sales figures and shows a marked downward slide, while the nation's industrial output rose by just 0.1%, below expectations of 0.3%.

Overall the picture is less than rosy [WAMN: 18-Oct-2004] and says Commerzbank global strategist Bob Gay: "You get a sense that consumer optimism is not what it was at the beginning of the year."

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff