U.S. Consumer Confidence Rose in December, Defying Omicron Fears
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumer confidence rose in December by more than expected as Americans’ outlook for employment and the economy improved, suggesting some resilience in the recovery despite growing concerns about the omicron variant and elevated prices.
The Conference Board’s index increased to 115.8 from an upwardly revised 111.9 reading in November, according to the group’s report Wednesday. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had called for a reading of 111.
The data suggest consumers remain optimistic despite new Covid-related restrictions in some parts of the country as the omicron variant spreads. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and various economists have said that each coronavirus wave brings a smaller economic impact as Americans become more comfortable adapting to the virus and its variants.
Households in December became slightly more sanguine about their inflation expectations for the coming year, which hit a 13-year high last month, according to the Conference Board’s data.
The Conference Board’s expectations index increased to a five-month high of 96.9, while the gauge of current conditions edged down to 144.1.
The share of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” fell slightly to 55.1%. Consumers said they were more likely to purchase cars, homes and appliances.
“Looking ahead to 2022, both confidence and consumer spending will continue to face headwinds from rising prices and an expected winter surge of the pandemic,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.
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