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Thu Dec 22, 2011, 01:14 PM Dec 2011

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Climbs More Than Forecast in Michigan Index

By Bob Willis - Dec 22, 2011 10:12 AM ET

Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, talks about the U.S. economy, Treasuries and stock market. He speaks with John Dawson on Bloomberg Television's "First Up." (Source: Bloomberg)

Confidence among U.S. consumers rose more than forecast in December, to a six-month high, as Americans began wrapping up their holiday spending.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment climbed to 69.9 from 64.1 at the end of November. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey called for 68 after a preliminary reading of 67.7. The gauge averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

A drop in unemployment and lower gasoline prices may be boosting confidence, raising the odds that the pickup in household spending will continue into 2012. Still, gridlock over deficit-cutting measures in Congress and taxes may limit further gains in sentiment.

“Income growth and a reviving job market are helping restore confidence,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “Recent decline in jobless claims and gasoline prices are a positive.”



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