The Dow Jones Economic Sentiment Indicator jumped 2.2 points to 46.1 in December, after holding steady at 43.9 in October and November. In December 2009, the indicator stood at 38.7.

The Indicator, which gauges economic coverage in 15 major daily U.S. newspapers, rose on positive coverage on local real estate markets and strong holiday shopping. For instance, there was a report on brisk sales of mansions priced at $3 million or more in Westchester County, N.Y., pockets of recovery in commercial real estate in San Francisco’s Bay Area, and interest in the Telecom Corridor, a business park in northern Dallas.

In addition, car dealerships across the U.S. have been reporting strong sales, and the nation’s busiest port complex, the Los Angeles/Long Beach port, said exports have been strong.

“Improved sentiment about the U.S. economy is pointing to a solid, even if unspectacular, recovery in growth, including an upswing in job creation,” said Alen Mattich, Dow Jones Newswires “Money Talks” columnist.

According to Dow Jones, the Indicator highlighted the risk that the U.S. economy was sliding into a recession in 2001 and 2008 and can predict economic turning points as early as seven months in advance of other indicators.

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