Following virtually no change in November, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index rose to 109.0 (1985=100) this month, nearly four percentage points higher than November's index figure of 105.3.
Data from the New York-based business research group show consumers expecting business conditions and the U.S. labor market to improve during the next six months.
However, Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer research Center, warned against reading too much into the latest numbers. "Despite the latest improvement in the index, there is little to suggest that the pace of economic activity in the final quarter of 2006 is anything but moderately better than its uninspiring performance earlier this year," she said. "Given the see-saw pattern in recent months, it is too soon to tell if this boost in confidence is a genuine signal that better times are ahead."
The consumer confidence index is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.