Consumer sentiment grows during end of 2011

As 2011 winds down, it appears that consumer confidence is on the rise, according to the latest data from the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for November, which could lead to lower consumer debt.

The index shows consumer confidence grew markedly during the month from October’s level, increasing from 64.1 to 69.9. Economists polled by Bloomberg stated before the index’s release they had expected a reading of 68.

“Income growth and a reviving job market are helping restore confidence,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics, told Bloomberg prior to the report’s release. “Recent decline in jobless claims and gasoline prices are a positive.”

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer for the Chicago-based Harris Private Bank, told Reuters the index’s positive figure comes at a time when housing and other economic statistics are improving.

“I think it’s a reflection of improving job statistics, we’re seeing an increase in retail sales and even housing seems to be going up,” he said. “A lot of the key bookends of our economy appear to be really strengthening and that’s supporting confidence.”

Continued rises in consumer sentiment could occur through the first few months of 2012, according to recent analysis by The Conference Board.

The group’s Leading Economic Index jumped in November a level of 118. Analysts with The Conference Board stated this index could furthre rise into the spring of next year, as the housing market will likely be experiencing considerable activity.

In October, The Conference Board hiked its projection for improving consumer confidence for the following six-month period by nearly 1 percent. The organization increased its expectation for consumer sentiment again in November, this time elevating its forecast by 0.4 percent.

Coupled with low unemployment claims in mid-December and improving housing conditions in numerous markets nationwide, overall consumer health may stay become healthier as 2012 progresses. Consumers who still need help with handling their finance may want to consult with debt management or credit counseling firms.