WASHINGTON (Jan. 16, 2012) — Consumer confidence in the U.S. has reached a level in January 2012 that is the highest since last May, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment.
The January figure for consumer confidence is now 74, up from 69.9 last month, according to the University of Michigan survey. Recent declines in unemployment and gasoline prices, along with a rebound in stock prices, are the likely reasons for the improved consumer confidence figures, experts said.
The survey's index of consumer expectations six months from now also soared in January, to 68.4 from 63.6. The six-month expectations figures are considered especially significant, because they project the direction of consumer spending.
Based on monthly telephone interviews with consumers in the continental U.S., the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey rates consumer confidence on a scale of 1 to 100, with the value of 100 normalized as the level of consumer confidence in December 1964. Before the beginning of the most recent recession, consumer confidence as measured by the survey ranged in the high 80s.
The final consumer confidence index for January is due out Jan. 27.