Consumer Confidence retreated in January, after large back-to-back gains in the final two months of 2011, reports Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in the January report.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in December, retreated in January. The Index now stands at 61.1 (1985=100), down from 64.8 in December. The Present Situation Index declined to 38.4 from 46.5. The Expectations Index edged down to 76.2 from 77.0 in December.
"Consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions turned more downbeat and is back to November 2011 levels. Regarding the short-term outlook, consumers are more upbeat about employment, but less optimistic about business conditions and their income prospects. Recent increases in gasoline prices may have consumers feeling a little less confident this month," Franco said.
Consumers' appraisal of current conditions was less favorable in January. Those claiming business conditions are "good" decreased to 13.3 percent from 16.3 percent, while those stating business conditions are "bad" increased to 38.7 percent from 33.5 percent, the Conference Board said in its analysis.
Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also less positive. Those saying jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 6.1 percent from 6.6 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" increased to 43.5 percent from 41.6 percent, the Board said.
Consumers' short-term outlook was slightly weaker than it was last month, the Board said. "The proportion of consumers anticipating business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 16.6 percent from 16.8 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen increased to 15.1 percent from 13.4 percent."
"Consumers' outlook for the labor market, however, was moderately more favorable. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 16.2 percent from 14.0 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 19.5 percent from 20.2 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 13.8 percent from 16.3 percent."
The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was January 19.