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Consumer confidence up in December, nearing post-recession high

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Consumer confidence jumped in December and is pushing toward a post-recession high, though Americans still don’t seem to think the economy is healthy.

A monthly index from the Conference Board shows consumer confidence at 64.5, up nearly 10 points from a revised 55.2 in November, itself a 15-point boost from October.

That’s the highest level since April, when the index hit the 66 mark, though still below the 90 level that economists consider the threshold for a stable economy. The index hit 72 in February, its highest point since the recession.

More people believe that business conditions are good -- 16.6% compared with 13.9% the previous month. And fewer consumers -- 41.8% compared with 43% in November -- think that jobs are hard to find. A higher percentage of respondents also said that conditions for business and jobs will keep looking up during the next six months.

The December improvement could signal better times to come because consumer spending makes up about 70% of U.S. economic activity. Another key measure last week from Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan also found consumers feeling more positive, with 29% expecting good economic times ahead compared with 19% in November.

But Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s research center, warned that the boost could have also come from temporary holiday cheer.

“While consumers are ending the year in a somewhat more upbeat mood, it is too soon to tell if this is a rebound from earlier declines or a sustainable shift in attitudes," Franco said in a statement.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Shoppers scout for post-Christmas bargains Monday at a Target store in Abilene, Texas. Credit: Joy Lewis / Abilene Reporter-News

 
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