NEW YORK-After decreasing in January, this month’s Consumer Confidence Index rose by a healthy 9.3 points to 70.8.
The jump brought the index close to its 72.0 reading from last February. Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center of The Conference Board, which compiles the monthly indicator, said, “Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions than they were in January. And, despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects and their financial situation.”
This more upbeat viewpoint was reflected in the 11.3-point increase in the Expectations Index, to 88.0, and the 6.2-point climb in the Present Situation Index, to 45.0. In addition, larger percentages of consumers gave a favorable rating to both current and down-the-road conditions in business and the labor market.
The bump up in the Consumer Confidence Index mirrored an increase in the Sentiment Index, a measure of confidence compiled by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. This index rose 0.3 point to 75.3.
“Consumers have shrugged off concerns about rising gas prices, the European crisis and election-year politics, preferring to focus on the favorable impact of job growth,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Survey of Consumers, from which the Sentiment Index is derived.