U.S. consumer confidence rises in December 2011

Consumer confidence increased in December 2011 as consumers became more optimistic that economic conditions will improve, according to The Conference Board.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index increased to 64.5 in December 2011 from 55.2 in November 2011. A reading of 90 or higher indicates a healthy economy.

The index measures how shoppers feel about business conditions, the job market and the next six months. Economists watch the index closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity and is a critical part of a strong rebound.

Those expecting business conditions to improve during the next six months rose from 13.7 percent to 16.7 percent, and those expecting business conditions to worsen dropped from 16.1 percent to 13.4 percent. Additionally, 13.3 percent expect more jobs during the next six months compared with 12.4 percent in November 2011, and those expecting fewer jobs dropped from 23.8 percent to 20.2 percent.

"After two months of considerable gains, the Consumer Confidence Index now is back to levels seen last spring," says 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. Although consumers are ending the year in a somewhat more upbeat mood, it is too soon to tell whether this is a rebound from earlier declines or a sustainable shift in attitudes."

Date : 1/5/2012