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Consumer Confidence Index Jumps Again in December

The widely-watched Consumer Confidence Index, which increased considerably in November, had another healthy gain in December and now stands at 113.7, the Conference Board reported this week.

The index was 109.4 in November (1985=100).

The Conference Board said the December jump was due to an increase in its Expectations Index, a measure of the level of optimism about the economy in the future.

“The post-election surge in optimism for the economy, jobs and income prospects, as well as for stock prices which reached a 13-year high, was most pronounced among older consumers,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, which declined, still suggests that economic growth continued through the final months of 2016.

“Looking ahead to 2017, consumers’ continued optimism will depend on whether or not their expectations are realized.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined in December. Those saying business conditions are “good” decreased slightly from 29.7% to 29.2%, while those saying business conditions are “bad” increased from 15.2% to 17.3%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was less positive than last month. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” declined from 27.8% to 26.9%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased from 21.2% to 22.5%.

Consumers’ short-term outlook improved considerably in December. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 16.4% to 23.6%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen declined from 9.9% to 8.7%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market also improved markedly. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 16.1% to 21%. However, those anticipating fewer jobs also increased, from 13.5% to 14%. The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase rose from 17.4% to 21%, while the proportion expecting a decrease fell moderately, from 9.2% to 8.6%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was Dec. 15.

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