Stocks hold gains after sluggish consumer data

NEW YORK – December 30, 2008 The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence index dropped to 38 in December from a revised 44.7 the previous month. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected the index to rise incrementally to 45.

It's likely that the dismal holiday shopping season prepared investors for downbeat news on consumer confidence - shoppers expressed their worries about the economy by cutting back their spending sharply.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 21 points at 8,505, little changed from its levels before the consumer data was released.

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