Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

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

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,756.24 -42.25 -0.24%
Nasdaq 5,104.88 -22.65 -0.44%
S&P 500 2,085.53 -4.58 -0.22%
Treasuries 2.22 -0.01 -0.36%
Data as of 12:50pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 30.22 -0.14 -0.45%
Bank of America Corp... 17.48 0.00 0.00%
Microsoft Corp 54.20 0.27 0.50%
Apple Inc 118.50 0.69 0.58%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 8.33 0.23 2.84%
Data as of 12:34pm ET


Sales soared in the first hours of Cyber Monday, putting the day on track to be the best e-commerce sales day of all time. More

Nearly six in ten black Americans surveyed by CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation say that they or a close friend or family member have been incarcerated -- and a majority of them come from low-income households. That leaves the many families of inmates in a precarious financial situation. More

Educational toymaker VTech, which sells tablets, baby monitors and educational software, said Monday that the personal information of five million people -- customers and their kids -- has been compromised. More

Hive, a startup funded by the UN, is tasked with getting more Americans engaged with the refugee crisis. More

Shoppers around the country braved the crowds to get their hands on the best Black Friday deals. More