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Larry Thomas

Consumer Confidence Index rises nearly 4 points in October

NEW YORK — Consumer confidence increased for the second straight month in October as consumers' assessment of current conditions brightened, and they generally were more optimistic about the short-term economic outlook.

The Conference Board reported that the widely watched index stood at 72.2 for October - its highest level of the year. That was up from 68.4 in September and 61.3 in August. (1985=100)

"Consumers were considerably more positive in their assessment of current conditions, with improvements in the job market as the major driver," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the group. "Consumers were modestly more upbeat about their financial situation and the short-term economic outlook, and appear to be in better spirits approaching the holiday season."

According to the latest survey, consumers describing business conditions as "good" rose to 16.5% from 15.3%, while those saying conditions are "bad" fell to 33.1% from 33.8%.

Those stating jobs are "plentiful" increased to 10.3% from 8.1%, while those saying jobs are "hard to get" declined to 39.4% from 40.7%.

In addition, respondents anticipating an improvement in business conditions during the next six months increased to 21.4% from 17.9%. However, those expecting conditions to worsen increased to 15.1% from 14.5%.

The Consumer Confidence survey is taken monthly for the Conference Board by the Nielsen research firm. The cutoff date for the latest results was Oct. 18.

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