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Report: Consumer confidence unexpectedly up in October

A report released Friday by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan found that consumer confidence in the United States rose unexpectedly in October, a signal that an economic recovery process may still be intact.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment climbed to 60.9 from 59.4 in September, beating Bloomberg News economists’ projections of a drop to 58.

The preliminary reading for the month was 57.5.

Relief from plummeting stocks and rising gas prices has left Americans feeling more uplifted than in recent months, raising hopes that the collective good mood will spur more holiday spending.

“Consumers are not throwing caution to the winds, but their mood has lifted slightly from the recession-type readings late this summer,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York City, who forecast a reading of 60. “The stock market is sharply higher, and the consumer is back in a spending mind frame.”

Estimates for the confidence measure ranged from 55 to 60, according to the Bloomberg survey. The index averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began in December 2007.

Commerce Department figures showed that spending increased in September by 0.6%, after a 0.2% gain the prior month.

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