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Consumer Confidence Jumps to 8-Month High

Politics Reuters

U.S. consumer confidence rose more than expected in December, hitting an eight-month high, as Americans grew more upbeat about the labor market and their financial situation.

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The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer sentiment increased to 64.5 from a downwardly revised 55.2 in November.

Economists had expected a reading of 58.3 from a previously reported 56.0 in November.

The rise in sentiment offered hope for a pick-up in consumer spending after a tepid performance in November.

Labor market conditions have improved in recent months, with the unemployment rate falling to a 2-1/2 year low in November and applications for first time jobless benefits at the lowest since April 2008.

The survey's present situation index rose to 46.7 this month --- the highest since September 2008 -- from 38.3 in November. The expectations index surged to 76.4 from 66.4 in November.

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"Consumers are more optimistic that business conditions, employment prospects and their financial situations will get better," the Conference Board said in a statement.

"While consumers are ending the year in a somewhat more upbeat mood, it is too soon to tell if this is a rebound from earlier declines or a sustainable shift in attitudes." (Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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