U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly rose to its highest in five years in October as consumers became more optimistic about the economy in a possible boost to President Obama's reelection hopes.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary October reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 83.1, up from 78.3 the month before, and the highest since September 2007, the survey showed on Friday.
The new buoyancy among consumers comes shortly after the U.S. unemployment rate tumbled to its lowest in nearly four years in September as more people returned to the workforce and found jobs than economists had predicted.
"We are getting some quite interesting signals from consumer sentiment and employment data - both (the) unemployment rate and initial claims - that there has been some quite significant improvement in the economy," said David Sloan, an economist at 4Cast in New York.
Economic issues have been a battleground in the election campaign as Obama seeks to burnish his credentials as a competent manager of the economy while Republican challenger Mitt Romney has faulted his record on job creation and growth. Friday's sentiment report was the last ahead of the November 6 poll and will be welcomed by Democrats.
The sentiment reading was well above the median forecast for a slight decline to 78 among economists polled by Reuters.
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