The storm is likely to weigh on growth early in the quarter. And consumers and businesses may hold back on spending because they fear lawmakers and Obama won't reach a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff." That's the name for sharp tax increases and spending cuts that would occur in January without a deal.

Job growth did increase in October with employers adding 171,000 jobs and the government boosting its estimates for hiring in August and September.

Since July, the economy has created an average of 173,000 jobs a month. That's up from 67,000 a month from April through June, a development that has brightened consumers' outlook.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that consumer confidence rose to 73.7 in November, helped by a better outlook for hiring over the next six months. November's level was up from 73.1 in October with both months posting the best confidence readings in five years. The index is still below the level of 90 that is consistent with a healthy economy.

Analysts said that a better market for home sales and rising home prices were contributing to Americans' improved mood.

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