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Consumer confidence crawls back up in November

New York — After a five-month-long freefall, the consumer confidence index managed to move up in November. As compiled by The Conference Board, the index reached 84.1, up 4.5 points from its October reading of 79.6 — its lowest level in nine years.

The index benefited from an improved outlook for the future, according to the board's survey results. The 5,000 consumer households that responded to the monthly survey said economic conditions for the next six months look better to them. This was reflected in the expectations index, one of the two major component numbers in the overall index, which finished November up 7.3 points at 88.4.

Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center, offered a hopeful but somewhat muted analysis of consumers' down-the-road viewpoint. "The rebound in expectations suggests consumers do not expect economic conditions to become worse," Franco said. "This comeback ... signals a brighter holiday spending season than was anticipated only a month ago."

In another more buoyant sign, The Conference Board reported last week that consumers plan to spend more on holiday gifts this year than last year. According to that study, American families intend to spend an average of $483 on gifts during the coming holidays, up 4.5 percent from one year ago.

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