Consumer Confidence Index hits 113.7 in December vs. estimate of 109

Consumer optimism about the economy increased to the highest level since August 2001, according to a monthly survey released Tuesday.

The Consumer Confidence Index hit 113.7 in December, The Conference Board said on Tuesday. Economists polled by Reuters expected the Consumer Confidence Index to hit 109 for the month.

The survey, a closely followed barometer of consumer attitudes, measures confidence toward business conditions, short-term outlook, personal finances and jobs.

"Consumer Confidence improved further in December, due solely to increasing Expectations which hit a 13-year high (Dec. 2003, 107.4)," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a press release.

"The post-election surge in optimism for the economy, jobs and income prospects, as well as for stock prices which reached a 13-year high, was most pronounced among older consumers," the director said.

Franco added that consumer confidence in 2017 will hinge on whether expectations of economic growth and policy are met.

Consumers' assessment of current conditions declined slightly, with those saying business conditions are "good" sliding from 29.7 percent to 29.2 percent, and those saying they are "bad" ticking up from 15.2 percent to 17.3 percent, according to the report.

A similar dip was reflected in labor statistics, with those saying jobs are "plentiful" dipping to 26.9 percent from November's 27.8 percent, and those saying jobs are scarce climbing to 22.5 percent from last month's 21.2 percent.

Still short-term outlook numbers improved considerably in December, and the outlook for the labor market in the months ahead churned up, with the percentage of consumers expecting more jobs in the new year ticking up from 16.1 percent to 21 percent.

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