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US consumer confidence at highest since 2001

By AFP - Dec 27,2016 - Last updated at Dec 27,2016

A shopper returns to his car at a mall in King of Prussia, Philadelphia, in this photo taken on December 8 (AP photo)

WASHINGTON — US consumer confidence posted sharp gains in December, hitting its highest level in 15 years, according to survey data released on Tuesday.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index jumped 4.3 points for the month to 113.7, easily surpassing an analyst forecast and extending gains made in November to reach the highest point since August 2001.

The monthly jump was solely due to an increase in survey respondents' expectations for business, income and employment in the coming six months, the board said in a statement.

Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators, said the Expectations Index also hit a 13-year high at 105.5, with post-election optimism most pronounced among older consumers.

"Consumers' assessment of current conditions, which declined, still suggests that economic growth continued through the final months of 2016," Franco said in the statement. 

The share of consumers saying business conditions were good fell 0.5 points to 29.7 per cent, but those saying things were bad rose by a greater degree, 2.1 points to 17.3 per cent.

Views on the current jobs situation were more stable: the share of people saying jobs were "plentiful" fell 0.9 points to 26.9 per cent, while those who said jobs were hard to get rose 1.3 points to 22.5 per cent.

The short-term outlook was much rosier. Expectations for business conditions jumped 7.2 points to 23.6 per cent and those foreseeing more jobs moved up 5.9 points to 21 per cent.

 

"Looking ahead to 2017, consumers' continued optimism will depend on whether or not their expectations are realised," Franco said.

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