US consumer confidence jumps in Dec: survey
Consumer confidence in the US economy spiked in December, bouncing more than expected as inflation expectations dipped and gas prices cooled, survey data showed on Wednesday.
While consumer inflation in the United States has been hovering at its highest levels in decades, price hikes have shown signs of easing as policymakers struggle to cool demand.
The closely-watched consumer confidence index rose more than analysts predicted to 108.3 this month, markedly higher than the revised 101.4 figure in November, said think tank The Conference Board.
"Consumer confidence bounced back in December, reversing consecutive declines in October and November to reach its highest level since April," said Lynn Franco, The Conference Board's senior director of economic indicators.
Consumers' current outlook improved, with inflation expectations dropping to the lowest since September last year, she said.
Recent declines in gas prices have been "a major impetus" for this trend, although plans to buy homes and big-ticket appliances continued easing, Franco said.
But she cautioned that a "shift in consumers' preference from big-ticket items to services will continue in 2023."
Although the Federal Reserve has moderated its pace of interest rate hikes to fight inflation, officials have signaled that there are still some ways to go.
Consumers are less gloomy about the short-term business outlook and labor market, but overall expectations remain at "a level associated with recession," said The Conference Board.
"The (overall) level remains depressed compared to pre-pandemic readings," Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics said in a note.