Consumer confidence improved in early January but then fell back as gas prices rose late in the month, resulting in no overall change to confidence from December to January, according to the University of Michigan's Survey of Consumers released today. "Consumers view high gas prices as a threat to their living standards and a threat to the ability of the economy to create new jobs," said Richard Curtin, director of the survey. Rising interest rates were also a frequently cited concern, affecting both the cost of credit as well as consumers ability to cash-out some home equity to support their spending plans. Overall, the data points toward growth in personal consumption expenditures of 2 3/4 percent during 2006. The main exception is home sales, where the data point toward declining sale...
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