By Eric Morath

A measure of consumer sentiment improved in early November, signaling Americans felt better about the economy as the election cycle wound down and holiday shopping season began.

The University of Michigan said Friday its preliminary reading of consumer sentiment rose to 91.6 this month from October's final reading of 87.2. Last month's reading matched September 2015 as the lowest reading of the past two years.

The survey for the preliminary November reading occurred between Oct. 27 and Tuesday, Election Day. November's final reading, scheduled for Nov. 23, will include both pre- and postelection interviews.

The latest reading was well above the 88.0 figure economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journalexpected.

"These moves can presumably be explained by the solid pace of employment growth and the continued low level of gasoline prices," said Andrew Hunter, economist at Capital Economics. But "the shock victory of Donald Trump means that the final estimate of confidence reported later this month could be much lower, not least because Hillary Clinton appears to have narrowly won the popular vote."

The survey found consumers also raised their expectations for future inflation. Consumer expectations for both short-term and longer-term annual inflation rose to 2.7% in the early November reading from October's record-matching low of 2.4%.

Measures of consumer inflation have trended at historically low levels, missing the Federal Reserve's 2% inflation target for more than four years. Expectations for firmer inflation could support Fed policy makers looking to increase the central bank's short-term interest rate next month."The most striking finding in early November was that both near and long-term inflation expectations jumped," said the survey's chief economist Richard Curtin. "These increases must be replicated before they can be taken to indicate a troublesome development; thus far, the data has simply repeated the March 2016 peaks."

The survey's reading of current economic conditions improved to 105.9 from October's final reading of 103.2. The reading of future expectations rose to 82.5 from 76.8.

Write to Eric Morath at eric.morath@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 11, 2016 11:24 ET (16:24 GMT)

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