Consumer sentiment gains as gloom ebbs

NEW YORK Wed Nov 23, 2011 10:18am EST

People walk past shops at the downtown area in Seal Beach, California October 13, 2011.    REUTERS/Alex Gallardo

People walk past shops at the downtown area in Seal Beach, California October 13, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Alex Gallardo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer sentiment held up in late November as some of the gloom over the economic outlook ebbed, a survey released on Wednesday showed.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 64.1, up from 60.9 the month before.

The index was a hair lower than its preliminary reading of 64.2 and shy of the median forecast of 64.5 among economists polled by Reuters.

"The most important aspect of improved prospects for the economy was that consumers anticipated slight job gains," survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.

"Consumers were no more positive about the current state of the economy, but they were less likely to expect the economy to worsen in the year ahead."

The survey said only a trivial number of interviews were conducted after the deadlock announcement by the congressional "super committee" charged with reaching a deal on deficit reductions, suggesting consumers had not incorporated the failed efforts into their economic expectations.

Even so, confidence in the ability of current policies to improve the economy has remained at record lows for the past several months and beleaguered consumers are sensitive to setbacks.

The survey's barometer of current economic conditions rose to 77.6 from 75.1, while the gauge of consumer expectations gained to 55.4 from 51.8.

The survey's one-year inflation expectation held steady at 3.2 percent, while the survey's five-to-10-year inflation outlook was also unchanged at 2.7 percent.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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