Consumer Confidence Surges

Consumer confidence jumped in November as Americans became more optimistic about the economy next spring, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The board's Consumer Confidence index rose to 135.8 in November from 130.5 in October after four months of declining confidence. See full release.

The index measuring the outlook for the economy in six months rose to 109.6 from 101.5 in October. The current situation index also rose, to 175.3 from 173.9 in October.

In a separate report, the Chicago Purchasing Management Index (PMI) fell to 56.8 in November from 58.8 in October. However, the prices paid index jumped over the psychologically significant 70 percent level at 70.9.

The National Association of Purchasing Management will report on its national index for November on Wednesday. Economists expect the NAPM index to be about even at 56.8.

The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was essentially unchanged at 6.31 percent.

The Federal Reserve has tried to deflate consumer spending by raising overnight interest rates three times in the past five months, but to no avail so far.

"A booming economy and a strong job market have consumers in a confident, free-spending mode," said Lynn Franco, head of consumer research for the private Conference Board. "This is reflected in robust retail spending both online and in person."

The higher interest rates may be slowing spending on big-ticket items, such as homes, autos and furniture. The survey showed that only 3.3 percent of consumers plan to buy a home in the next six months, down from 4.3 percent a month ago.

Plans to buy autos fell from 9.5 percent to 7.8 percent and plans for major appliance purchases dropped from 30.9 percent to 27.2 percent.

Consumers still have lots of confidence in the economy. Nearly 28 percent expect their incomes to rise in the next six months, giving a boost to all kinds of spending. Only 5.5 percent believe the economy will worsen in the next six months.

"It's not surprising that $4,000 leather bags and $3,000 cashmere coats are selling briskly, along with $15 Pokemon toys and $25 computer mouses," Franco said.

The Street was expecting consumer confidence to rise to about 133 in November.

By Rex Nutting, CBS MarketWatch