In January 2006, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index rose for the third consecutive month. It now stands at 106.3 (1985=100), up from 103.8 in December 2005.
"Consumer confidence is now at its highest level in more than three years," noted Lynn Franco director of the consumer research center at the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group. The last time its index hit 106.3 was in June 2002.
January's increase "was driven solely by consumers' assessment of current economic conditions, especially their more positive view of the job market," said Franco. The board's "present situation" index was 128.4 in January, its best showing since a mark of 144.5 in August 2001.
However, "the improvement has not translated into greater optimism about the near-term future," Franco said. "In fact, the gap between consumers' assessment of current conditions and the expectations remains wide." The board's expectations index declined to 91.5 in January of this year from 92.6 in December 2005, with those expecting business conditions to worsen during the next six months increasing to 10.5% from 9.1% in December and those expecting business conditions to improve decreasing to 17.7% from 18.4%.
The Conference Board's survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.