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Reports: US Consumer Confidence Rises, Inflation Low

A man carries bags out of a department store in Alameda, California, Dec. 17, 2015. U.S. consumer spending rebounded in November after a weak showing in October while a key inflation gauge posted the fastest year-over-year increase in 11 months.

Economic reports published Wednesday showed U.S. consumer confidence growing, a mixed view of the housing market, and oil inventories dropping slightly.

A government report says stocks of crude oil dropped slightly in the United States last week, boosting prices and the value of energy company stocks in Wednesday morning's trading.

Analysts said oil prices were still near multi-year lows, which is hurting energy companies and investments, but boosting the rest of the economy.

Low gasoline prices are one reason that consumer attitudes are growing more optimistic, which, experts say, will help boost the consumer spending that is a key driver of U.S. economic growth. Low inflation and improving unemployment also encouraged the consumers surveyed for a new University of Michigan study. A separate government report said consumer spending rose by three-tenths of a percent in November.

Confident consumers are also the ones who buy homes, and a separate report from the Commerce Department says sales of new homes rose more than 4 percent in November; however, a report Tuesday showed sales of previously owned homes dropped last month. Sales of previously occupied homes make up more of the market than newly-constructed homes.