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Consumer confidence hits highest level in five months

Survey suggests more optimism about the job market

Consumer confidence rose to its highest level in five months in November, according to The Conference Board's widely followed Consumer Confidence Index.

The index stands at 54.1, up from 49.9 in October, based on preliminary results of a monthly survey taken through Nov. 19. While the Present Situation Index only rose to 24 from 23.5, the Expectations Index climbed to 74.2 from 67.5 last month.

"Consumer confidence is now at its highest level in five months, a welcome sign as we enter the holiday season," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Consumers' assessment of the current state of the economy and job market, while only slightly better than last month, suggests the economy is still expanding, albeit slowly. Expectations, the main driver of this month's increase in confidence, are now at the highest level since May (when it was 84.6). Hopefully, the improvement in consumers' mood will continue in the months ahead."

Consumers' assessment of current-day conditions was virtually unchanged from October. Those claiming business conditions are "bad" increased to 43.6% from 42.3%, while those claiming business conditions are "good" edged down to 8.1% from 8.3%.

Consumers' appraisal of the job market, however, was more positive than last month. Those stating jobs are "plentiful" increased to 4% from 3.5%, while those stating jobs are "hard to get" edged up to 46.5% from 46.3%.

Consumers were more optimistic about the short-term outlook than in October. Those anticipating an improvement in business conditions over the next six months rose to 16.7% from 15.8%, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen declined to 12.1% from 14.4%.

Consumers were also more upbeat about future job prospects.
Those expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead declined to 18.8% from 22.3%, while the percentage expecting more jobs rose to 15.5% from 14.5%. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes increased to 10.6% from 9.7%.

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