Consumer confidence in the U.S. economy dropped in November, the fifth consecutive month, to its lowest level in 7-½ years. The November Conference Board index of 82.2 was the lowest since the 79.9 mark of February 1994 and reflected the worst assessment of present conditions since a reading of 90.9 in October 1994, the board said. The index is based on New York-based Conference Board’s survey of 5,000 households from November 1-18 about general economic conditions, employment prospects and spending plans. “Rising unemployment and continuing layoff announcements are damping confidence,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's consumer research center. “A turnaround in confidence levels is not likely before year's end, nor are retailers likely to enjoy a blockbuster holiday season.” Analysts had expected the index would rise to 86.5 this month from October's previously reported 85.5 reading. The November decrease in confidence reflects reduced optimism about present conditions. The component of the confidence index that tracks consumers' present situation fell to 93.5 this month from 107.2 in October. A gauge of consumer expectations for the next six months rose to 74.6 from 70.7 in October.