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Consumer Confidence Rises, Holding Upward Trend

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By Jim Puzzanghera

(MCT)—Americans continued to shake off fears of the looming fiscal cliff, with a gauge of consumer confidence rising slightly this month to its highest level since early 2008.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index edged up to 73.7 in November from 73.1 the previous month, the group said Tuesday.

The latest reading is the highest since February 2008 and comes after another widely watched index of consumer confidence, put out by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, held at a five-year high last week in its final November reading.

Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s director of economic indicators, said the improvement in November came because more people expressed optimism about the direction of the economy in the next six months.

“In the past few months, consumers have grown increasingly more upbeat about the current and expected state of the job market, and this turnaround in sentiment is helping to boost confidence,” she said.

The optimism has grown even though large tax increases and government spending cuts are set to kick in Jan. 1 if the White House and Congress can’t agree to halt or delay them.

Businesses have been more concerned with the impact of the “fiscal cliff,” which economists predict would trigger another recession next year.

But one measure of business confidence improved in October, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Orders for so-called core capital goods, such as machinery and computers (but excluding aircraft and defense purchases), increased 1.7 percent last month from September. It was the biggest increase since May.

©2012 Los Angeles Times
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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