U.S. consumer confidence rose in December due to an increase in short-term expectations, though consumers "remain far from optimistic," the Conference Board said. The consumer confidence index rose to 88.6 from a revised reading of 87.8 in November. The initial estimate for November was 87.3.
The consumer outlook on business conditions, employment, inflation, and stock prices "improved marginally," according to Lynn Franco, director of consumer research at the Conference Board. December's confidence reading is below last year's level of 110.0, as consumers have been concerned about higher energy prices and falling home prices.
Those expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months increased to 13.8% from 12.4%. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead rose to 11.2% from 10.6%.
The Conference Board's present situation index has exhibited "persistent declines" and consumers' appraisal of conditions continues to "paint a dismal picture," Franco said: "In fact, in assessing the current job market, pessimists now outnumber optimists."
The present situation index reached 108.3 in December, compared with 130.5 in the prior year. Consumers saying conditions are "bad" rose to 20.0% from 18.9% in November. In contrast to the short-term future outlook, consumers saying jobs are presently hard to get rose to 23.5% from 21.4%.