Consumer confidence hits five-month high

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Consumer confidence was up in November, with the index rising to 54.1 from 49.9 in October, according to the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

"Consumer confidence is now at its highest level in five months, a welcome sign as we enter the holiday season," center director Lynn Franco said in a statement.

"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," Franco added. "Expectations, the main driver of this month's increase in confidence, are now at the highest level since May. Hopefully, the improvement in consumers' mood will continue in the months ahead."

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

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

Consumers were more optimistic about the short-term outlook than they were in October. Those who anticipate an improvement in business conditions during the next six months rose to 16.7 percent from 15.8 percent, and those who anticipate that business conditions will worsen declined to 12.1 percent from 14.4 percent.

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