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Consumer confidence hits more than 4-year high

Consumer confidence rose to a four-and-a-half-year high in November as consumers became more optimistic about the outlook for the economy, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes rose to 73.7 up from an upwardly revised 73.1 the month before, its highest since February 2008. Economists had expected a reading of 73.0, according to a Reuters poll.

October was originally reported as 72.2.

"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 expectations index rose to 85.1 from 84.0, while the present situation index edged slightly lower to 56.6 from 56.7.

Consumers' labor market assessment was little changed in November. The "jobs hard to get" index was flat at 38.8 percent, while the "jobs plentiful" rose to 11.2 percent from 10.4 percent. 

Analysts said the latest figures should bode well for the holiday shopping season.

"Despite the 'fiscal cliff,' Hurricane Sandy and a weaker stock market in November, households seem to be upbeat," said Ray Stone, economist and managing director for Stone & McCarthy Research Associates. "That means they should be willing to spend money on Christmas. Shoppers won't be busting down doors, but sales should be pretty upbeat."