US Economy

Consumer confidence hits 96.5 in December, vs 93.8 estimate

Consumer sentiment index 96.5 in Dec.
Consumer sentiment index 96.5 in Dec.

Consumer confidence improved in December after a November dip, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The index hit 96.5 in December. That's up from the November reading, which was revised up to 92.6 from 90.4.

Thomson Reuters analysts expected a reading of 93.8 for December.

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"As 2015 draws to a close, consumers' assessment of the current state of the economy remains positive, particularly their assessment of the job market," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement. "Looking ahead to 2016, consumers are expecting little change in both business conditions and the labor market. Expectations regarding their financial outlook are mixed, but the optimists continue to outweigh the pessimists."

A closely followed barometer of consumers' expectations, the index also measures the average appraisal of current economic conditions. The results varied.

Those saying business conditions are "good" increased from 25 percent to 27.3 percent, the Conference Board, an independent business research association, said. But those saying business conditions are "bad" also increased from 16.9 percent to 19.8 percent.

Future expectations were also somewhat disparate, the survey said.

The share of consumers that expect business conditions to improve over the next six months declined, while the share that expect conditions to worsen was on the rise.

Consumers, however, had a rosier view of the labor market: Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased slightly from 12 percent to 12.9 percent, the Conference Board said, while those anticipating fewer jobs decreased from 18.5 percent to 16.6 percent.

Hiring has been healthy in 2015, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Employers are adding an average of 210,000 jobs a month through November. Unemployment has stayed at a seven-year low 5 percent for two straight months, AP said.

Major indexes traded slightly higher after the consumer confidence announcement.

The AP contributed to this report.