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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Confidence Has Modest December Climb
by Carol Stone  December 30, 2014

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index turned back upward to 92.6 in December from November's 91.0, which was revised noticeably from 88.7 initially reported; the December index is 19.5% above December 2013. The latest figure came in marginally below expectations for 93.0 in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. During the last ten years, there has been a 45% correlation between the level of confidence and the three-month change in real personal consumption expenditures.

The overall expectations reading actually eased, to 88.5 from 89.3 in November; that figure is revised from 87.0, and the December index is just 12.0% ahead of a year ago. However, the present situation index rose to 98.6 from 93.7, which is revised from 91.3; the latest number is 30.9% above December 2013.

Business conditions were rated as "good" by 24.8% of respondents, the same as a slightly revised November share. Business conditions were rated "bad" by 19.6%, down from November's 21.8%. Jobs were viewed as hard to get by 27.7% of respondents, the lowest reading since March 2008, just as the recession was getting under way. However, the proportion believing jobs availability will improve in six months decreased from 15.5% to 14.7% and the number thinking there will be fewer jobs rose by the same amount to 16.9%. The number thinking business conditions will be better in six months edged down to 18.0% from 18.3%, although the number expecting a deterioration also decreased slightly, to 10.1% from 10.4%.

The share of respondents planning to buy a major appliance in the coming six months increased a bit to 52.2% from a downwardly revised 51.6%. The number looking to buy an automobile eased to 12.1% from 12.9%, but that was revised from just 3.3% reported before. Expectations for the inflation rate in twelve months were unchanged at 5.1%.

By age group, confidence among those under 35 continued to deteriorate, falling to 100.6 in December from 111.4 in November and 121.9 in October. By contrast, that for individuals aged 35-54 improved to 101.7 this month from 92.9 last month, and among those over 55, confidence edged up to 82.9 from 78.1.

The Consumer Confidence data is available in Haver's CBDB database. The total indexes appear in USECON and the market expectations are in AS1REPNA.

Conference Board (SA, 1985=100) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Consumer Confidence Index 92.6 91.0 94.1 19.5 73.2 67.1 58.1
  Present Situation 98.6 93.7 94.4 30.9 67.6 49.8 36.1
  Expectations 88.5 89.3 93.8 12.0 77.0 78.6 72.8
Consumer Confidence By Age Group
  Under 35 Years 121.5 111.4 121.9 10.8 93.1 86.5 77.3
  Aged 35-54 Years 101.7 92.9 96.4 21.2 76.8 68.5 59.8
  Over 55 Years 82.9 78.1 80.3 25.8 61.2 56.7 47.3
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