CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, which declined in September, increased in October. The Index now stands at 81.1, up from 77.0 in September. The Expectations Index rose to 90.7 from 88.5 and the Present Situation Index increased to 66.8 from 59.7.

The Present Situation Index increased in October after a five-month decline. Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center, says a more favorable job market was a major factor in the turnaround. Franco says this improvement in consumer spirits is a good omen for upcoming retail sales.

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Consumers' assessment of current business conditions also improved, with families rating conditions as “good” increasing to 17.2 percent from 16.2 percent. Those claiming conditions were “bad” fell to 28.4 percent from 29.5. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six month rose to 23.2 percent from 21.3 percent. Consumers expecting business conditions to become worse decreased down to 11.3 percent from 11.9 percent.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households and is a monthly measure of the public's confidence in the health of the U.S. economy.

In addition to the Conference Board's findings, the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Census Bureau report that in September, new orders for manufactured durable goods — including cars and equipment — increased $1.4 billion, or 8 percent, to $176.3 billion.

Sources: The Conference Board, www.conference-board.org; the U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov; and the Department of Commerce, www.commerce.gov.

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