By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK, Nov 12 (Reuters) - U.S. consumer sentiment rose more than expected in early November and hit its best level since June, helped by a slightly better economic outlook and early holiday sales, a survey showed on Friday. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary November reading on consumer sentiment came in at 69.3, up from 67.7 in October and slightly higher than the median Reuters forecast of 69.0. The reading on the overall index was just above the 68.2 average of the last four months but below the post-recession high of 76.0 from June, according to the report. "The slight improvement in sentiment suggests that spending will continue at close to its current rate through Christmas, which is better than expected even a few months ago. But it's not going to be enough to make a material dent in the unemployment rate," said Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York. Unemployment was at 9.6 percent in October, according to the latest government jobs report. The sentiment survey's one-year inflation expectations measure also gained, edging up to 3.0 percent from 2.7 percent last month, and hit its highest level since May. "The increase was due to many fewer consumers anticipating no inflation at all," the survey's director, Richard Curtin, said in a statement. The barometer of current economic conditions rose to 79.7 from October's reading of 76.6, also above a forecast of 77.0. Like the sentiment reading, it was the best level since June. A gauge of consumer expectations rose to 62.7 from 61.9 in October. But it was below a forecast for 63.5. U.S. markets showed little reaction to the data, with the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index down 1.0 percent following a slide in natural resource stocks. However, stocks have rallied since late August, and the S&P is up 15 percent since the Aug. 31 close. Expectations of further economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve, announced last week, helped support the upward move. (Additional reporting by Emily Flitter; Editing by Dan Grebler) ((Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra: visit http://topnews.session.rservices.com * BridgeStation: view story .134 For more information on Top News: http://topnews.reuters.com) Keywords: USA ECONOMY/SENTIMENT . Keywords: USA ECONOMY/SENTIMENT (firstname.lastname@example.org; +1 646 223 6393; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.
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