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Consumers shake off pessimism

New York — In a strong dose of good news that could signal a recovery in retail sales leading into the holiday season, consumer confidence staged a major rebound during October, rising by 5.3 percent and reversing two straight months of declines, The Conference Board reported.

The bellwether signal of consumer sentiment, widely viewed as a precursor of future consumer spending, rose to a current reading of 81.1, up from 77.0 in September, helped by an improving job market. The October gain largely offset September's 5.8 percent drop.

The way consumers look at current economic conditions improved during October as consumers saw the job market picking up. "After declining for five consecutive months, the Present Situation Index reversed course in October," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center.

Consumers' appraisal of present-day conditions ended a five-month slide in October, rising by 11.9 percent to a reading of 66.8 from 59.7 the prior month.

Driving the improvement was a growing sentiment that the labor market is at last improving. The number of consumers who said they think jobs are "plentiful" rose to 11.8 percent from 9.9 percent in September. And the number who thinks jobs are "hard to get" correspondingly eased off, to 33.8 percent from 35.1 percent.

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