Consumer confidence rises in December

Consumers have plenty of reasons to feel better. The economy grew from July through September at a 5 percent annual rate, fastest clip in 11 years.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP/File
In this Dec. 24, 2014 file photo, last minute Christmas shoppers are reflected in a store's window as they walk through Chicago's Loop. After enduring a brutal winter, businesses, consumers and investors showed renewed vigor as 2014 wore on and set themselves apart from much of the world.

Impressed with an improving economy, American consumers are feeling more confident, a private survey showed.

The Conference Board said Tuesday its consumer confidence index climbed to 92.6 this month from a revised 91 in November.

Consumers registered a more favorable view of current economic conditions; 17.1 percent said jobs were plentiful, up from 16.2 percent in November. Just 19.6 percent said business conditions were bad, down from 21.8 percent last month.

Expectations for the near future fell slightly. Compared to November, fewer consumers in December said they planned to buy a home or a car in the next six months. But 52.2 percent said they planned to buy a major appliance, the highest share since 2010, noted Laura Rosner, an economist at BNP Paribas. She predicts "continued strength in consumer spending." And their outlook is rosier now than it was when 2014 began.

Consumers have plenty of reasons to feel better. The economy grew from July through September at a 5 percent annual rate, fastest clip in 11 years. Employers are adding nearly 241,000 jobs a month this year — on pace to make 2014 the best year for hiring since 1999. The unemployment rate remained at a six-year low 5.8 percent last month. The missing piece of the economic recovery is pay: Wages are barely keeping up with inflation.

Still, tumbling gasoline prices are putting a bit of cash back in consumers' pockets: According to AAA, the average gallon of gasoline nationwide costs $2.27, down from $2.78 a month ago.

Another measure of consumer confidence — the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index — jumped this month to 93.6 from 88 in November. Michigan's December reading was the highest since January 2007, nearly a year before the Great Recession began.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Consumer confidence rises in December
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2014/1230/Consumer-confidence-rises-in-December
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe