U.S. Consumer Confidence at New High Since 2000

Consumers south of the border are feeling confident as the holiday season approaches.

Figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Conference Board revealed the consumer confidence index hit 129.5 this month, up from 126.2 in October and highest since November 2000.

The business research group's index measures consumers' assessment of current conditions and their outlook for the next six months. Both improved this month. More than 37% of respondents said jobs were "plentiful," the highest share since June 2001.

Economists watch the report because consumer spending accounts for about 70% of U.S. economic output.

The overall index hit bottom at 25.3 in February 2009 at the depths of the Great Recession.

Economic growth clocked at a healthy 3% annual pace from July through September, and the unemployment rate has dropped to a 17-year low of 4.1%