The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

December 7, 2012

Americans in mood to spend at start of holiday

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

A recovery in residential real estate is one reason consumers are more bullish. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 cities showed property values rose in the year ended in September by the most since July 2010, according to a Nov. 27 report. Sales of previously owned properties rose in October, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The economy is also still adding jobs. Employers boosted payrolls by 171,000 jobs in October, exceeding the 157,000 average this year, according to data from the Labor Department. November figures are scheduled for release Friday.

Cheaper pump prices are helping as well. The average price of a gallon of gasoline was $3.38 Wednesday, down from an October high of $3.82, according to data from AAA, the largest U.S. motoring organization.

Thursday's report is in line with other sentiment measures. The Conference Board's confidence index increased to 73.7 in November, a four-year high, from 73.1 the prior month.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, compiled by Langer Research Associates in New York, conducts telephone surveys with a random sample of 1,000 consumers 18 and older. Each week, 250 respondents are asked for their views on the economy, personal finances and buying climate; the percentage of negative responses is subtracted from the share of positive views and divided by three. The most recent reading is based on the average of responses over the previous four weeks.

The comfort index can range from 100, indicating every participant in the survey had a positive response to all three components, to minus 100, signaling all views were negative.

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