U. Michigan Consumer Confidence Improves

U.S. consumer confidence (search) improved in October, market sources said Friday, bolstered by stronger economic data and some tantalizing signs of job growth.

The University of Michigan (search) 's index of consumer sentiment for October rose to 89.6 in a final reading, matching economists' forecasts and up from a final reading in September of 87.7.

"Consumer sentiment bounced back in October from modest decline in September, restoring August's modestly optimistic levels. The bounce back was certainly encouraged by the visible improvement in the labor market and the stock market," said Pierre Ellis, senior international economist at Decision Economics in New York.

"The general economy does have a greater tone of stability and strength and that is surely a positive factor too," he said.

The survey's current conditions index climbed to 99.9 from 98.4 in September. The expectations index, which tracks perceptions about the economy over the next 12 months, rose to 83.0 from 80.8 in September.

Next week, investors will see the October employment report, which could help firm up perceptions the lagging job market is starting to catch up with the robust 7.2 percent increase in gross domestic product for the third quarter.

In September the U.S. economy created 57,000 jobs, the first increase in eight months. Reports on weekly applications for unemployment benefits have also bolstered hopes for a turnaround as claims have stabilized below the 400,000 mark, a level economists see as a divide between a deteriorating and improving jobs market.

U.S. Treasury yields (search) dipped slightly on the confidence report, while the dollar vacillated. The main U.S. stock market indexes remained marginally higher.

The University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey, which is released only to paying subscribers, is based on telephone interviews with 500 U.S. households over the course of the month on personal finances and business and buying conditions.

The preliminary survey, released about midway through the month, is based on the first 250 interviews.