Industry News

Consumer confidence improves

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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index posted growth in December, rising to 109 from 105.3 last month, although the chances of a more upbeat 2007 are still up in the air, according to an economic analyst. Consumers' overall assessment of present-day conditions was more upbeat than in November, as the present situation index increased to 129.9 from 125.4. Those claiming conditions are "bad" decreased to 14.6 percent from 16.2 percent, while those saying conditions are "good" edged down to 27.2 percent from 27.5 percent. Labor market conditions also improved from last month, with consumers saying jobs are "hard to get" declining to 21.2 percent from 22.1 percent and those claiming jobs are "plentiful" increasing to 26.9 percent from 25.7 percent in November. "Despite the latest improvement in the index, there is little to suggest that the pace of economic activity in the final quarter of 2006 is anything but moderately better than its uninspiring performance earlier this year...