By at least one measure, in October consumers were the most confident they've been since February 2008, the private Conference Board reports.

Its widely watched consumer confidence index rose to 72.2 from 68.4 in September. According to a statement from the board's director of economic indicators, Lynn Franco, "consumers were considerably more positive in their assessment of current conditions, with improvements in the job market as the major driver. Consumers were modestly more upbeat about their financial situation and the short-term economic outlook, and appear to be in better spirits approaching the holiday season."

Since consumers purchase about 70 percent of all goods and services, their mood is a key economic indicator.

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