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Consumer confidence reaches 4 1/2 year high

Consumer confidence rose in November for the second straight month, reaching the highest level it has seen in nearly five years.

The Conference Board reported a consumer confidence index of 73.7, up from 73.1 in October. ”Both are the best readings since February 2008,” The Associated Press reported.

“Over the past few months, consumers have grown increasingly more upbeat about the current and expected state of the job market, and this turnaround in sentiment is helping to boost confidence,” Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.

The survey is watched closely as consumer spending accounts for nearly 70 percent of the economy. Consumers seem to be encouraged by strong signs in hiring and job growth over the last few months.

Consumer spending this year is nevertheless expected to be on par with that of 2011, according to Gallup, “thus pointing to good, though not great, sales for holiday retailers in 2012.”

The index still well behind 90, which is considered a healthy economy, but it is up considerably from a low of 25.3 from February 2009.

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