Consumer confidence jumps in January

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Americans were more optimistic about jobs and the overall economy in January, pushing the latest reading on consumer confidence to its highest level since May 2010.

The Consumer Confidence Index shot up to 60.6 in January, from 53.3 in December, the Conference Board, a New York-based research group that compiles the index, said Tuesday.

The jump far exceeded forecasts. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com were expecting the index to increase to 53.5.

"Consumers have begun the year in better spirits," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Consumers rated business and labor market conditions more favorably and expressed greater confidence that the economy will continue to expand and generate more jobs in the months ahead."

The figure, which is based on a survey of 5,000 U.S. households, is closely watched because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the nation's economic activity.

Still a long way to go

The index is still well below a healthy reading. An overall reading above 90 indicates the economy is solid, and 100 or above indicates strong growth.

And while a higher number is a positive sign, the index has been volatile and economists are still waiting for a clear trend to emerge.

"The bottom line is, it's pretty good news," said Mike Schenk, senior economist with the Credit Union National Association. "On the other hand, we're a long way from feeling like happy days are here again."

Consumer confidence wavered throughout last year, plunging to a 17-month low of 48.6 in September.

Since then, end of the year stock market gains have helped fuel optimism, as have slight improvements in the job market, Schenk said. Workers were also happy to receive a 2% raise after President Obama signed a payroll tax holiday into effect at the end of the year, he said. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,356.87 288.00 1.69%
Nasdaq 4,644.31 96.48 2.12%
S&P 500 2,012.89 40.15 2.04%
Treasuries 2.15 0.08 3.72%
Data as of 5:55am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.26 0.54 3.23%
General Electric Co 24.43 0.00 0.00%
Apple Inc 109.41 2.66 2.50%
Cisco Systems Inc 26.81 0.22 0.85%
Microsoft Corp 45.74 0.58 1.28%
Data as of Dec 17

Sections

That number will likely grow as the Obama Administration eases restrictions with the Communist country. More

Laurie Segall sits down with Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and founder of AeroFS, Yuri Sagalov, to discuss how immigration reform could bring more skilled tech workers to the U.S. More

News startup The Skimm announced a new round of funding, 1 million active readers, and plans to expand into a 'lifestyle brand.' More

Congress waited until the last minute to decide what to do with a slew of expired tax breaks. They extended most of them, and a handful will affect individuals directly. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.