WRAPUP 2-U.S. consumer, manufacturing data show improvement

* Consumer confidence index rises to 54.1 in November

* S&P/Case-Shiller composite index falls 0.8 pct in Sept

* ISM-Chicago business barometer climbs to 62.5 in November
(Updates with Friday’s jobs report and other details)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Nov 30 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. consumer confidence rose in
November to its highest in five months and U.S. Midwest business
activity grew faster than expected, providing further evidence of
economic recovery.

Still, a faster-than-expected fall in prices of U.S.
single-family homes in September underscored the hurdles remaining
for the recovery.

Tuesday’s reports were the latest to suggest improvement in the
economy, and the U.S. government’s monthly employment report on
Friday is forecast to show another month of job gains. In another
encouraging sign, U.S. chain stores’ sales and traffic over the
weekend showed a strong start to the holiday shopping season.
[ID:nN29147501]

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of
consumer attitudes increased to 54.1 in November, the strongest since
June, from a revised 49.9 in October. Analysts polled by Reuters
forecast a reading of 52.6. For details, see [ID:nN30178922]

Separately, the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago’s
business barometer rose to 62.5 in November, up from 60.6 in October
and above economists’ forecast.

“On balance this morning’s data has been positive and suggests
continued stabilization in U.S. economic reports,” said Omer Esiner,
senior market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in
Washington.
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For graphics click on:

U.S. home prices:

http://r.reuters.com/bum77q

U.S. consumer confidence:

http://r.reuters.com/fep77q

Midwest manufacturing:

http://r.reuters.com/pur77q
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STILL ANGST OVER EURO ZONE, HOUSING

In the U.S. markets, lingering worries about euro-zone sovereign
debt overshadowed the data, however, pushing U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) (.SPX: )
lower, benchmark 10-year Treasury note prices (US10YT=RR: ) higher and
the dollar (EUR=: ) up against the euro.

Friday’s jobs report is also expected to show unemployment
remaining at 9.6 percent, a rate that has fueled worries about the
consumer’s ability to spend and has helped prompt action by the
Federal Reserve. Earlier this month, the Fed announced plans to boost
growth through increased asset purchases.

Fed policymakers, in minutes released last week, said they saw
unemployment at significantly higher levels than they had in their
last forecast in June.

Another top concern for policymakers has been the struggling
housing market, and a report Tuesday gave further signs of weakness
in that sector.

Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller composite index showed home prices
in 20 metropolitan areas declined 0.8 percent in September from
August on a seasonally adjusted basis, more than the decline of 0.3
percent expected by economists in a Reuters poll.

Prices rose 0.6 percent from a year earlier, S&P said, but that
was slower than the expected gain of 1.1 percent.

“The data confirms what I think a lot of economists suspected,
which was that we would see house price weakness again after the
expiration of the first-time home-buyer tax credit,” said Christopher
Low, chief economist at FIN Financial in New York.

The economy is coming back from its worst downturn since the
1930s, but growth has been slow, with gross domestic product
expanding at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent in the third quarter.

Retailers, meanwhile, have been mostly optimistic about holiday
spending and profit forecasts. On Tuesday, home improvement chain
Lowe’s Cos (LOW.N: ) reiterated its sales and profit outlook for its
current fiscal year 2010, and its stock rose 1.7 percent to $22.75.
(Additional reporting by Corbett Daly in Washington and Nick Olivari
and Emily Flitter in New York; Editing by Jan Paschal and Padraic
Cassidy)

WRAPUP 2-U.S. consumer, manufacturing data show improvement