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Economic Report: Consumer confidence improves in December

The numbers: The index of consumer confidence rose to 115.8 in December from a revised 111.9 in the prior month, The Conference Board said Wednesday.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a slight rebound to 111.

Confidence in November was revised to a modest gain after initial estimates of a sharp decline.

Key details: Concerns about inflation eased in December after hitting a 13-year high last month.

Part of the survey that tracks how consumers feel about current economic conditions fell slightly to 144.1 this month from 144.4  in November. 

A gauge that assesses what Americans expect over the next six months rose to 96.9 from 90.2.

Big picture: Confidence is clearly down from its peak of 128.9 in June but it has shown some resilience in light of higher inflation and continued spread of COVID-19.

While jobs are plentiful, higher prices for food and energy have become a concern for households at the lower end of the income scale.

What The Conference Board said: “Expectations about short-term growth prospects improved, setting the stage for continued growth in early 2022. The proportion of consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles, major appliances, and vacations over the next six months all increased,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. But confidence and spending will face headwinds from rising prices and an expected winter surge of the pandemic, she added.

Market reaction: Stocks DJIA, +0.41% SPX, +0.55% moved higher after the confidence data.

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