The consumer confidence index gained to 73.7 in November from an upwardly revised 73.1 last month, The Conference Board reported Tuesday.

The October index was originally reported as 72.2.

The present situation index dipped to 56.6 from an upwardly revised 56.7, originally reported as 56.2, while the expectations index rose to 85.1 from an upwardly revised 84.0, originally reported as 82.9.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a 73.2 reading for the index.

"The Consumer Confidence Index increased in November and is now at its highest level in more than four and a half years (76.4 Feb. 2008)," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "This month's moderate improvement was the result of an uptick in expectations, while consumers' assessment of present-day conditions continues to hold steady.  Over the past few months, consumers have grown increasingly more upbeat about the current and expected state of the job market, and this turnaround in sentiment is helping to boost confidence."

Business conditions were called "good" by 14.4% of respondents in November, down from 16.5% in October. Those saying conditions are "bad" dipped to 31.5% from 33.0%.

The percentage of consumers expecting a pickup in business conditions in the next half year grew to 22.2% from 21.5%, while 14.3% said they expect conditions to worsen, down from 15.0% the prior month.

On the jobs front, those who believe jobs are "plentiful" rose to 11.2% in November from 10.4% in October, while the number saying jobs are "hard to get" remained at 38.8%. The respondents who see fewer jobs becoming available in a half year, decreased to 19.7% from 19.8%. Those expecting more jobs to become available climbed to 20.3% from 19.7%, The Conference Board reported.

Income expectations were mixed, with 15.9% of consumers anticipating an increase in their income in the next six months, off from the prior month's 16.7%, while 15.0% expect their income to decrease, down from 15.1% in the prior month's survey.

The number of consumers who expected to buy a home in the next six months soared to 6.9% from 5.4%, while the number of respondents planning to buy a car decreased to 12.4% from 13.1%. More consumers than last month said they plan to buy a major appliance in the next six months (50.6% vs. 46.8%).

More respondents than last month (52.7% vs. 45.7%) expect to take a vacation in the next six months, but more said they would stay in the U.S. rather than leave the country. Cars rather than airplanes were the preferred mode of travel, by a 27.1%-22.2% margin.

The consumer confidence survey is based on a probability design random sample by the Nielsen Company.

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