NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -
Consumer confidence surged in November thanks to falling gas prices and an improving job outlook, the Conference Board said Tuesday.
The board's consumer confidence index rose to 98.9 for the month, up from a revised 85.2 in October. Economists had expected a rise to 90, according to Briefing.com.
"A decline of more than 40 cents (a gallon) in gasoline prices this month and the improving job outlook have combined to help restore consumers' confidence," said Lynn Franco, Director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.
"While the Index remains below its pre-Katrina levels, the shock of the hurricanes and subsequent leap in gas prices has begun wearing off just in time for the holiday season. Despite this latest boost in confidence, holiday spending will be driven by the bargains consumers have come to expect."
"We're a little more positive about the outlook of the holiday shopping season than we were in October," Franco told CNNMoney.com, although she cautioned that it wasn't likely to be a blockbuster season.
Consumers claiming business conditions are "good" increased to 25.5 percent from 23.3 percent in November. Those claiming conditions are "bad" decreased to 17.3 percent from 18.4 percent.
Consumers saying jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 23.2 percent from 25.3 percent, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" was virtually unchanged at 20.8 percent.
Consumers' outlook for the next six months was also considerably more upbeat, the business research group reported.
The Conference Board index has long been considered a good gauge of consumer spending, which drives two-thirds of the U.S. economy.
Some say the number has become less important in recent years, however, as consumers seem to be borrowing and spending more regardless of how much or how little confidence they have in the economy.
The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. In 1985, the index stood at 100.
Meanwhile, orders for durable goods surged in October, click here for more.
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