U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Decreases In December

Consumer confidence in the U.S. has unexpectedly decrease in the month of December, according to a report released by the Conference Board on Tuesday, with the report also showing a substantial downward revision to the reading on consumer confidence in November.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index slid to 88.6 in December from a downwardly revised 92.9 in November.

Economists had expected the consumer confidence index to inch up to 97.0 from the 96.1 originally reported for the previous month.

The unexpected decrease by the headline index partly reflected a steep drop in consumers’ assessment of current conditions, with the present situation index tumbling to 90.3 in December from 105.9 in November.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions deteriorated sharply in December, as the resurgence of COVID-19 remains a drag on confidence,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

“As a result, consumers’ vacation intentions, which had notably improved in October, have retreated,” she added. “On the flip side, as consumers continue to hunker down at home, intentions to purchase appliances have risen.”

Consumers claiming business conditions are “good” decreased to 16.0 percent from 18.8 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased from to 39.5 percent 34.9 percent.

The assessment of the labor market was also less favorable, as the percentage of consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” fell to 21.8 percent from 26.3 percent and those claiming jobs are “hard to get” rose to 22.0 percent from 19.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the report showed consumers were moderately more optimistic about the short-term outlook, driving the expectations index up to 87.5 in December from 84.3 in November.

Consumers expecting business conditions will improve over the next six months increased to 29.0 percent from 26.5 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen decreased to 21.9 percent from 22.5 percent.

The outlook for the job market also improved, with consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead rising to 27.5 percent from 25.0 percent. However, those anticipating fewer jobs also inched up to 22.2 percent from 21.6 percent.

On Wednesday, the University of Michigan is scheduled to release its revised reading on consumer sentiment in the month of December.

The consumer sentiment index for December is expected to be downwardly revised to 81.3 from a preliminary reading of 81.4, which was up from 76.9 in November.

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