Though "overall readings remain historically weak," consumer confidence went up sharply this month, the private research group known as The Conference Board just reported.
Its consumer confidence index rose to 56.0 from 40.9 in October. "Consumers appear to be entering the holiday season in better spirits," said Lynn Franco, director of the board's Consumer Research Center, in a statement. At 56.0, the index is the highest it's been since July. But when the economy is humming, it often registers above 100.
As we feel duty bound to remind everyone, though, while there have been several encouraging bits of economic news in recent weeks there have also been signs of continued weakness — including today's report on a drift lower in home prices.
We'll get a snapshot about the economic data that most people care about the most — jobs — on Friday. The Labor Department is due to release figures on the November unemployment rate and any gains in payroll employment. The jobless rate has been stuck near or above 9 percent since April 2009.