Consumer Confidence Jumps in December

Conference BoardNEW YORK-The consumer confidence index surged 6.1 points to finish December at 78.1, close to its pre-government shutdown level of 80.2 in September, according to The Conference Board, which compiles the monthly indicator.

Lynn Franco, the board’s director of economic indicators, said the overall index got a significant boost from consumers’ views of current economic conditions. The present situation index registered 76.2, up from 73.5 in November and reaching its highest level since April 2008. Franco said consumers attributed this improvement to more favorable economic and labor market conditions.

Consumers also expressed a more upbeat view of economic conditions down the road, according to Franco. Indeed, the expectations index rose 8.3 points to 79.4 in December. “Despite the many challenges throughout 2013, consumers are in better spirits today than when the year began,” Franco said.

In the results of the monthly survey, conducted for the board by Nielsen, a smaller percentage of consumers rated current business conditions as “bad,” and a larger percentage of consumers said current jobs are “plentiful.” In addition, the ratio of consumers who expect better business conditions down the road ticked up, as did the percentage of those who predict more jobs in the months ahead.