The Conference Board consumer confidence index, which had declined in October, improved dramatically in November. The index now stands at 98.9, up from 85.2 in October. The present situation index rose to 114 from 107.8. The expectations index surged to 88.8 from 70.1 last month. "A decline of more than 40 cents in gasoline prices this month and the improving job outlook have combined to help restore consumers' confidence," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "While the index remains below its pre-Katrina levels, the shock of the hurricanes and subsequent leap in gas prices has begun wearing off just in time for the holiday season. Despite this latest boost in confidence, holiday spending will be driven by the bargains consumers have come to expect." Consumers' assessment of present-day conditions improved in November. Those claiming business conditions are "good" increased to 25.5 percent from 23.3 percent. Those claiming conditions are "bad...
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