Most Americans in a decade project economy will get better

More Americans this month said the world’s largest economy will improve than at any time in the past decade, led by a surge among Democrats following the re-election of President Barack Obama.

The share of households projecting the economy will get better rose to 37 percent in November, the highest since March 2002. That propelled the Bloomberg monthly consumer expectations gauge to 4 from minus 7 in October. The weekly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was at minus 33.9 in the period ended Nov. 18, hovering near a seven-month high of minus 33.1 the prior week.

“While the improvement in expectations is largely a function of the election, rising equity prices, an improving labor market and a growing sense the tide has finally turned in the housing market are contributing to the turn in overall sentiment,” said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York.

Growing confidence may lead to a pickup in spending, which makes up about 70 percent of the economy, boosting sales at department stores such as Kohl’s Corp. at the start of the year- end holiday shopping season.

In a separate report today, fewer Americans filed applications last week as damage to the labor market caused by superstorm Sandy began to subside. Jobless claims decreased by 41,000 to 410,000 in the week ended Nov. 17, the Labor Department reported today in Washington.

Stocks were little changed, following a three-day advance in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, after the figures and as European finance ministers failed to agree on a debt-reduction package for Greece. The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to 1,389.32 at 9:35 a.m. in New York.

Consumer Expectations

The Bloomberg consumer expectations gauge in November showed the first positive reading since March and the highest since February 2011.

Two of the three components of the weekly comfort index fell. The measure on perceptions of the current state of the economy declined to minus 58.9 from a four-year high of minus 56.6 the prior week. The buying climate index fell to minus 38.6 from minus 37.6.

The barometer measuring Americans’ views of their personal finances rose to minus 4.2 from minus 5.1 the previous week.

“Here in the U.S., I have seen some signs of modest economic recovery and improving consumer confidence,” William Johnson, chief executive officer of Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Co., the world’s biggest ketchup maker, said on a Nov. 20 earnings conference call. “I don’t expect robust economic growth in the U.S. in 2013, but I am encouraged by the progress in our U.S. business.”

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