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In the Economy: Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Rises to Highest Since July 2007

Posted on by Ingram Hebron

Consumer confidence rose in October to a seven-year high as employment opportunities and declining gasoline prices boosted Americans’ spirits.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of sentiment increased to 86.9, the highest since July 2007, from 84.6 in September. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of 62 economists called for the measure to hold at its preliminary October reading of 86.4.

Cheaper fuel, rebounding stock prices and job gains on pace for their strongest year since 1999 are keeping households upbeat. Bigger wage gains that accompany the increase in hiring would help provide a bigger push for consumer spending that unexpectedly dropped last month.

“Consumers have more disposable income to spend on things other than gasoline,” Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in New York, said before the report. “Overall, consumer spending should be pretty decent in the fourth quarter.”

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey for the sentiment measure ranged from 84.4 to 87.7. The index averaged 89 in the five years before December 2007, when the last recession began, and 64.2 in the 18-month contraction that followed.

Consumer spending declined in September as incomes (PITLCHNG) rose at the slowest pace of the year, Commerce Department figures showed today. Expenditures fell 0.2 percent, weaker than any economist projected in the Bloomberg survey, after rising 0.5 percent a month earlier. Incomes were up 0.2 percent.

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Courtesy of Bloomberg.com (Danielle Trubow)