* Only 12 pct of those surveyed see jobless rate rising
* Americans more upbeat on prospects for economy
NEW YORK, Sept 14 Consumer confidence
unexpectedly improved in early September as Americans
anticipated better economic and employment prospects, but the
cheery attitudes could be temporary, a survey showed on Friday.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary
September consumer sentiment index rose to 79.2 from 74.3 in
August. That topped expectations for a decline to 74.0,
according to a Reuters poll.
The gauge of consumer expectations climbed to 73.4 from
65.1, though the barometer of current economic conditions nudged
down to 88.3 from 88.7. Both the sentiment and expectations
measures were at their highest levels since May.
Just 12 percent of those surveyed expected the unemployment
rate to rise, down sharply from the 25 percent who anticipated
an increase in August's survey. This month's proportion was the
lowest recorded since 1966.
Favorable long-term prospects for the economy were seen by
42 percent of consumers, the highest level in five years and up
from 32 percent last month.
But the improved optimism was likely a temporary bounce
after the recent presidential candidate conventions, the report
cautioned, noting that last month's employment figures had been
"The sooner it is tempered, the less economic damage will be
incurred due to failed expectations," survey director Richard
Curtin said in a statement.
Consumer spending will likely rise on average about 1.8
percent from the fourth quarter of this year to the first
quarter of 2013, Curtin said.
Consumers also felt better about their personal finances,
with 37 percent reporting a worsening financial situation, down
from 40 percent, as Americans continued to whittle down debt.
Still, 61 percent expected their financial situation to
remain unchanged in the year ahead, the largest proportion in
the history of the survey.
While rising food and gasoline prices remained a concern,
the one-year inflation expectation eased to 3.5 percent from 3.6
percent. The five-to-10-year inflation outlook also pulled back
to 2.8 percent from 3.0 percent.
Cheap mortgage rates bolstered Americans' opinions on the
housing market with 80 percent saying home-buying conditions
were favorable, up from 71 percent a year ago.
There was little reaction by financial markets to the report
as Thursday's aggressive move by the Federal Reserve to
stimulate the economy continued to dominate trade.
Government data on Friday showed retail sales rose for a
second month in a row in August, but the details of the report
pointed to only a modest increase in consumer spending in the