Confidence highest since 2007

WASHINGTON — Despite the looming fiscal cliff, consumers continue to get more optimistic about the direction of the economy.

Consumer confidence has risen so far this month to 84.9 from last month’s 82.6 reading, according to a preliminary November reading Friday from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan.

The figure was better than economists expected and was the highest level in more than five years.

“More consumers expected good rather than bad times financially in the economy in early November, not only for the year ahead but over the next five years as well,” survey director Richard Curtin told Reuters.

Friday’s reading builds off an increase in October to the highest level since September 2007 in the survey, which is one of the leading barometers of consumer sentiment.

Consumers’ view of the current economic conditions has increased this month to 91.3 from 88.1.

And consumers’ expectations of how the economy will perform over the next year also improved, with the survey’s reading rising to 80.8 from 79.