US consumer confidence at highest since Feb. 2008

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans' confidence in the economy surged last month to the highest level in nearly five years, many encouraged by the job market.

The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index increased in October to 72.2. That's up from a revised 68.4 in September and the highest reading since February 2008, two months into the Great Recession.

Consumers were more confident after seeing better job growth. Hiring in July and August was stronger than first thought, and employers added a modest 114,000 jobs in September, the government reported last month.

The survey is watched closely because consumer spending drives nearly 70 percent of economic activity. The reading is below 90, the level that indicates a healthy economy. It last reached that level in December 2007. But the index is far above the all-time low of 25.3 touched in February 2009.

The gain in consumer confidence could be an encouraging sign for President Barack Obama, who faces re-election Tuesday at a time when the economy is the top issue for most voters.

The report noted that consumers are more optimistic about both the economy and job market now and where it is headed in the next six months.



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