U.S. consumer confidence improved for the third straight month in January, and hit its highest level in more than three years, a private research group said Tuesday (Jan. 31).
CBS MarketWatch reported that the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index jumped to 106.3 in January from a revised 103.8 in December. It’s the highest level since June 2002, just slightly stronger than the previous peak of 106.2 hit in June 2005.
The index is closely watched by the recreational vehicle industry as a key economic indicator with regard to discretionary spending by consumers.
Economists expected an increase to about 104.6, according to a survey conducted by MarketWatch. Confidence in December was originally reported at 103.6.
Consumer confidence has improved steadily since it fell in September and October as hurricanes whipped the economy, driving gasoline prices to historic levels and depressing job growth.
Despite the increase, consumers remain wary about the future, the Conference Board researchers said.
The present situation index rose to 128.4 in January from 120.7 in December. This is the highest level since August 2001. But the expectations index, which measures the near-term future, slipped to 91.5 in January from 92.6 in December.
“This month’s increase was driven solely by consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions, especially their more positive view of the job market,” said Lynn Franco, director of consumer research at the private research organization.