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US consumer confidence rose to a 15-year in December

FILE – In this Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, file photo, shoppers return to their cars at a shopping center in King of Prussia, Pa. On Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, the Conference Board’s December index on U.S. consumer confidence. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – the American consumers are the brightest they have been around for more than 15 years.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 113.7 in December, up from 109.4 in November, the highest since reaching 114 in August 2001. It is a sign that consumers are confident in the aftermath of a divisive campaign.

The index measures the consumer assessment of current conditions, which dipped from November, but was still very positive, and their expectations for the future, which hit a 13-year.

Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said: “the post-election wave of optimism” was the strongest among older Americans.

The U.S. economy grew 3.5% annual pace from July to September, the fastest in two years. The unemployment rate is at a nine-year low of 4.6 percent. Employers have added over 180,000 jobs in the month this year, against an average 229,000 in 2015, but still solid.

Economists monitor consumer mood closely because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic output.

“The election of Donald Trump, has increased household expectations for the economy of a very high level,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities, wrote in a research note. “It remains to be seen whether Trump can deliver,” but the cracks in confidence could drive consumer spending higher.

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