U.S. consumers and businesses likely increased spending in November, a possible sign that the economy began gaining strength at the end of last year, according to recent forecasts from economists.

Household purchases rose 0.5% after a 0.4% increase in October, according to a median estimate of 62 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News ahead of late December figures from the U.S. Commerce Department. Fewer firings and rising incomes boosted consumer confidence, see story, making it more likely spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy, will keep improving.

At the same time, factories began ramping up production as gains in exports reinforce growing demand from U.S. companies, pointing to a more balanced and sustained recovery. The consumer spending report also showed incomes rose 0.2% last month after increasing 0.5% in October, according to the survey median.

Elsewhere, sales of new and existing homes increased to a combined 5.05 million annual rate in November from 4.71 million the prior month, according to economists surveyed. Purchases averaged a 5.7 million pace in the first six months of the year when the tax break was in effect, and then slumped to 4.12 million in July, the weakest since comparable records began in 1999.

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