By and  on October 26, 2010

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index turned up marginally in October — to 50.2 from 48.6 in September — but difficult conditions in the job market have left it “hovering at historically low levels.”

The Present Situation Index grew to 23.9 from 23.3 last month, while the Expectations Index improved a bit more rapidly to 67.8 from 65.5. The overall number for the month was the third lowest of the year, above only the 46.4 registered for February and last month’s disappointing showing.

Accordingly, 46.1 percent of the 5,000 U.S. households responding to the survey rated jobs as “hard to get,” up from 45.8 in September, while those characterizing them as “plentiful” dropped to 3.5 percent from 3.8 percent.

However, 16 percent expect an improvement in business conditions over the next six months, up from 15 percent last month, and those expecting a deterioration in conditions declined to 14.1 percent from 16.6 percent a month ago.

The confidence numbers had little effect on the stock market. Ending the day at 471.60, the S&P Retail Index, like the Dow Jones Industrial Average, gained less than 0.1 percent. Following its strong first-quarter results, Coach Inc. was the biggest gainer among the issues tracked by WWD, but teen specialty chains continued to excel as speculation about possible buyouts persisted. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. was up 4.8 percent to $44.84 while Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. finished even more strongly with a 6.4 percent advance to $6.18.

Vera Bradley Inc., which went public last Thursday at $16, continued its strong early run, closing Tuesday at $28.57, up $1.16, or 4.2 percent.

Saks Inc., the object of Diego Della Valle’s recent affections, saw its shares advance 3.8 percent to $11.34.

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