Retailers reported strong Black Friday sales, kicking off the holiday season which traditionally produces 20 percent of annual retail sales. Same-store sales rose 3.1 percent in November, according to Thomson Reuters. Costco and Macy's beat estimates while Target Corp., Kohl's Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. reported disappointing results. The Wall Street Journal reported weak November sales due to warmer temperatures and shoppers' expectation for deals after Thanksgiving.
The National Retail Federation estimates consumers spent an average of $398.62 on Black Friday weekend, up 9.1 percent from last year, with 38 percent from online sales.
"Retail sales have been better than expected but continuing uncertainty about the financial sector, the Eurozone debt crisis, and fiscal policy in the U.S. are likely to cause employment growth to be slower than we would normally see at this phase of an economic recovery," he said.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve and five other central banks reduced the cost of providing cash to European banks in an effort to improve liquidity in the European financial system. The move also boosted U.S. stocks.