U Mich: Nov. Consumer Sentiment Rises

U.S. consumer confidence (search) strengthened in November, supported by an improving jobs market and better returns in stocks, a survey showed Wednesday, hinting that this holiday season may be a better one for retailers.

The University of Michigan's (search) final index of consumer sentiment for November rose to 93.7 from October's final reading of 89.6, market sources said.

The survey of consumers' mood follows a dramatic jump in confidence as gauged by the Conference Board (search), whose index jumped this month to highs not seen since Sept. 2002.

Economists had expected the Universitribers, to rise to 94.0, given the sunnier jobs picture and a barrage of good economic news.

But some economists warned that how consumers say they feel does not necessarily translate into stepped-up spending.

"Your typical economic recovery is a virtuous cycle of spending, job creation, investments and more spending. Each one fuels the other," said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, citing strong U.S. October durable goods data and a dramatic upward revision to third quarter economic growth.

Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. Commerce Department said October durable goods orders jumped 3.3 percent. Tuesday, Commerce reported that gross domestic product shot up at an 8.2 percent annual rate, the strongest advance in nearly 20 years.

The survey's current conditions index rose to 102.5 from 99.9 and the expectations index, a gauge of perceptions about the U.S. economy over the next year, rose to 88.1 from 83.0.

The survey is based on telephone interviews with 500 U.S. households over the month on personal finances and business and buying conditions. Preliminary results, released about midway through the month, are based on the first 250 interviews.