US consumer confidence likely slipped this month from strong January reading

Economic Indicators Associated Press

The Conference Board releases its February index on U.S. consumer confidence Tuesday at 10 a.m. Eastern.

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BACKTRACKING: The consumer confidence index is expected to drop to 99 this month, according to a survey of economists by FactSet. That would be a modest retreat from January's reading of 102.9 — highest since August 2007, four months before the start of the Great Recession.

IMPROVING JOB MARKET: Consumers' high spirits reflect a stronger job market. Employers added more than 1 million jobs from November through January — the best three months of hiring since the fall of 1997. Even wages, the economy's weakest link, have shown signs of improvement. The average hourly wage rose 12 cents to $24.75 in January; the 0.5 percent jump was the highest since 2008.

Still, U.S. economic growth slowed to a solid-but-unspectacular 2.6 percent annual pace in the last three months of 2014 after growing 5 percent from July through September. Economists say the economy is likely to grow about 2.5 percent from January through March. Last week, the Conference Board reported that its index of leading economic indicators rose last month by the smallest amount since August.