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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – October 1st isn’t the official start of fall, but it does mark the beginning of the economic fourth quarter. And in 2012, there are some encouraging signs the U.S. recovery continues to see limited gains, but there are also lingering signs some old problems are not going away soon enough.

Coral Gables Financial Planner Matt McGrath, of Evensky & Katz, expressed skepticism on the fourth quarter saying, “The 4th quarter is likely to get choppy as we get new information.”

Consumer confidence is improving and fall shoppers are spending again, according to the latest retail sales figures and consumer surveys. But full-time, good paying jobs are still hard to find; and that’s holding back improved consumer spending.

The stalled labor market is expected to be a problem when the latest corporate profit reports come out.

In South Florida, it’s just weeks away from the start of holiday hiring season and it could be better than last year. The local real estate recovery looks like it’s picking up new strength monthly; and that’s fueling demand for new construction projects.

The critical winter tourism season could see gains over last year, along with South Florida’s import-export businesses. Still, some local money managers worry more about Washington politics clouding the fourth quarter, than the steady gains on Wall Street.

Add in the latest surveys about the impact of Congress’ inability to decide on whether to extend so-called Bush-Era Tax Cuts for the middle class, which can add more than $3000 to family’s tax bills next year, and you know why some money managers are worried about the fourth quarter being dominated more by Washington, than Wall Street.

As for Miami’s critical winter tourism season, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau expects 75.4 percent occupancy, with a room rate of $165.51. Those numbers are an increase over 2011’s record tourism numbers.

In a GMCVB survey of member hotels, 82% indicated the overall business outlook for the fourth quarter as excellent or good.

The GMCVB is also waiting on the cruise passenger fourth quarter outlook, but said Port Miami will welcome five new ships to the port in six weeks starting with the Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Carnival Breeze, and Oceania Riviera in November and Celebrity Reflection, Disney Wonder in December.


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