U.S. consumer confidence falls in December 2012

Consumer confidence decreased in December 2012 as consumers' expectations fell amid fiscal cliff uncertainty, according to The Conference Board.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index fell to 65.1 in December 2012 from 71.5 in November 2012. 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 crucial part of a strong rebound.

Those expecting business conditions to improve during the next six months fell to 17.6 percent from 21.3 percent, and those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 15.8 percent to 21.5 percent.

Additionally, 17 percent expect more jobs during the next six months compared with 19.5 percent in November 2012. Those expecting fewer jobs increased from 21.2 percent to 27.3 percent.

"Consumers' expectations retreated sharply in December 2012, resulting in a decline in the overall index," says Lynn Franco, The Conference Board's director of economic indicators. "The sudden turnaround in expectations most likely was caused by uncertainty surrounding the oncoming fiscal cliff. A similar decline in expectations was experienced in August 2011 during the debt ceiling discussions. Although consumers are quite negative about the short-term outlook, they are more upbeat than last month about current business and labor market conditions."

Date : 1/11/2013