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Consumer Confidence Up Again in January

Jobs outlook for months ahead remains guarded.

U.S. consumers demonstrated heightened confidence in economic conditions for the second consecutive month in January.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index moved up to 80.7 this month from a revised 77.5 in December. The improvement in December followed three straight months of declines that had push the index down to 72.0 in November, its lowest mark since the 69.0 recorded in April.

Both the Present Situation Index and Expectations Index components of the survey improved, with the former rising to 79.1 from 75.3 in December and the latter advancing to 81.8 from 79.0 over that span.

“Consumers’ assessment of the present situation continues to improve, with both business conditions and the job market rated more favorably,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Looking ahead six months, consumers expect the economy and their earnings to improve, but were somewhat mixed regarding the outlook for jobs. All in all, confidence appears to be back on track and rising expectations suggest the economy may pick up some momentum in the months ahead.”

The percentage expecting more jobs in the next six months fell to 15.4 from 17.1 in December while the share expecting fewer jobs also receded, to 18.3 from 19.4. The percentage expecting job prospects to be similar to current conditions constituted nearly two-thirds of the sample — 66.3 percent, up from 63.5 percent.

The biggest improvement in overall confidence was among those in households headed by people under 35, which rose to 100.9 from 90.8.

For households headed by those 55 and over, the index rose to 71.1 from 65.9, and it fell to 82.8, from 83.9, for those in households headed by individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.

The news on The Conference Board’s survey helped lift stocks Tuesday morning as the S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group was up 0.7 percent to 894.98 and the S&P 500 up the same percentage, to 1,793.15, in the first 90 minutes of trading.