US consumer confidence remained at a 17-year high in November, with optimism ticking higher for the fifth straight month, according to a monthly survey released today.
Consumers' outlook about jobs and the business environment edged upwards, adding to October's gains and surprising economists with a fresh record, according to the Conference Board.
"Consumers are entering the holiday season in very high spirits and foresee the economy expanding at a healthy pace into the early months of 2018," Lynn Franco, head of indicators at the Conference Board, which produces the survey, said in a statement.
The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 129.5 for the month, the highest level since November of 2000.
The result follows October's upward-revised reading of 126.2, which had also been a 17-year record, the survey showed.
Analysts had instead expected to see the index drop slightly to 124 points
Most of the increase was in the survey component that tracks expectations, which reached 113.3, up from 109 in October. The present situation index posted a smaller gain at 153.9, up from 152.
The numbers showed hair's-breadth improvements in consumer sentiment about current conditions, with the share of those saying conditions were "good" rising five tenths to 24.9%, while the share of those saying they were "bad" fell eight tenths to 12.7%.
Those saying jobs are "plentiful" rose 0.4 percentage points to 37.1% and those who said jobs were "hard to get" fell two tenths to 16.9%.
The share of consumers expecting conditions to improve in the next six months rose to 22.4%, up three tenths from October.
But the outlook for jobs saw a significant boost, with the share of respondents saying they expected more jobs in the months ahead rising to 22.6% from 18.7% in October.
Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said the November increase could reflect survey respondents' eagerness to see lawmakers adopt an overhaul of the tax code.
"The sustained rise in stock prices since early October likely helped too," he said in a client note.
"Holiday shopping appears to have started strongly; these data suggest that will continue."