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Consumer Confidence Index jumps 9.3 points in December

The Consumer Confidence Index jumped more than nine points in December, improving to 64.5 from 55.2 in November, according to The Conference Board.

The research organization said the Present Situation Index increased to 46.7 from 38.3 in November, while the Expectations Index rose to 76.4 from 66.4 (1985=100).

"After two months of considerable gains, the Consumer Confidence Index is now back to levels seen last spring (66.0 in April)," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions improved again. Looking ahead, consumers are more optimistic that business conditions, employment prospects and their financial situations will continue to get better."

"While consumers are ending the year in a somewhat more upbeat mood, it is too soon to tell if this is a rebound from earlier declines or a sustainable shift in attitudes," Franco continued.

Consumers' assessment of current conditions improved in December. Those stating business conditions are "good" increased to 16.6% from 13.9%, while those stating business conditions are "bad" declined to 33.9% from 38.0%.

Consumers' assessment of the job market was also more positive. Those claiming jobs are "plentiful" increased to 6.7% from 5.6%, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 41.8% from 43%.

Consumers' short-term outlook also improved in December. The proportion of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 16.7% from 13.7%, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined to 13.4% from 16.1%.

Consumers' outlook for the job market was also more favorable. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 13.3% from 12.4%, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 20.2% from 23.8%. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes improved to 17.1% from 14.1%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, done for The Conference Board by Nielsen, had a Dec. 14 cutoff date for the preliminary results.

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