Consumer confidence jumps in Jan.

WASHINGTON – Feb. 22, 2011 – The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in January, improved further in February. The Index now stands at 70.4, up from 64.8 in January. The Present Situation Index improved to 33.4 from 31.1. The Expectations Index increased to 95.1 from 87.3 last month.

“The Consumer Confidence Index is now at a three-year high, due to growing optimism about the short-term future,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions has improved moderately, but still remains rather weak. Looking ahead, consumers are more positive about the economy and their income prospects, but feel somewhat mixed about employment conditions.”

Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions improved moderately in February. Those stating business conditions are “good” increased to 12.4 percent from 11.3 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” was unchanged at 39.6 percent.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also more positive than in January. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” rose to 4.9 percent from 4.6 percent, while those stating jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 45.7 percent from 47.0 percent.

Consumers’ short-term outlook was more optimistic than in January. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 24.4 percent from 24.0 percent, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen declined to 10.4 percent from 12.2 percent.

Consumers were mixed about the job market. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead edged down to 19.8 percent from 20.8 percent, however, those anticipating fewer jobs decreased to 15.4 percent from 21.2 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes rose to 17.3 percent from 15.3 percent.

The Nielsen Company conducts the monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, for The Conference Board. The cutoff date for February’s preliminary results was Feb. 10, 2011

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