Going out on a high note: Consumer confidence jumps as year draws to an end

NEW YORK — Consumer optimism about business, jobs, labor and income gave a boost to The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index for December, bringing expectations back to levels last seen in July.

The Confidence Index for December increased to 110.7, which is up from the downwardly revised 101 in November, while the Expectations Index rose even more substantially, jumping to 85.6 from the revised 77.4 in November.

“December’s increase in consumer confidence reflected more positive ratings of current business conditions and job availability, as well as less pessimistic views of business, labor market and personal income prospects over the next six months,” said Dana Peterson, chief economist.

“While December’s renewed optimism was seen across all ages and household income levels, the gains were largest among householders aged 35-54 and households with income levels of $125,000 and above,” said Peterson.

Consumers’ perceptions of a recession also abated in December, although two-thirds still say a downturn in 2024 is a possibility. And concerns about interest rates rising in the coming year fell as well.

“Expectations that interest rates will rise in the year ahead plummeted to the lowest levels since January 2021,” said Peterson, “and consumers’ outlook for stock prices rose to levels of optimism last seen in mid-2021.”

Another positive sign was that buying plans for cars, homes and big-ticket appliances rose to end the year on a more positive note.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on an online sample, is conducted by Toluna on behalf of The Conference Board.

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