Survey: Consumer confidence highest in five years

On Friday, the government also reported that the economy grew at a 2 percent clip in this year’s third quarter, a finding that could help the Obama campaign.

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Richard Curtin, the chief economist for the Thomson Reuters/Michigan survey, also noted that the optimism expressed by consumers is in “sharp contrast” to the business world and investors, who remain quite concerned about the looming fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts, set to hit Jan. 2 unless Congress acts to block them.

In fact, Curtin said that the rise in consumer optimism could be because people in the U.S., who polls show are often tired of how Washington operates, believe the cliff will be avoided. The survey also said the optimism suggests stronger spending in the upcoming holiday season.

“The surge in consumer optimism may be largely due to the implied election promises of both candidates that most of the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax cuts will be promptly extended,” Curtin said in a statement.

The 82.6 figure is also a slight decline from the survey’s initial October reading, which came in at 83.1. 

Analysts, on average, had projected that Friday’s finding would be around 83. The survey’s greatest improvements were in the index of consumer expectations, which bottomed out last year in the wake of Congress's debt-ceiling showdown.