Consumer Confidence Rises More than Expected in January


U.S. consumer confidence strengthened to its highest level in more than seven years in January on growing optimism about the jobs market and the overall economy, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

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The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index ofconsumer attitudes jumped to 102.9 from an upwardly revised 93.1in December. The January figure was the highest since August 2007 when it was 105.6.

Economists expected a January reading of 95.1, according to a Reuters poll.

The December figure was originally reported as 92.6.

"A more positive assessment of current business and labor market conditions contributed to the improvement in consumers' view of the present situation. Consumers also expressed a considerably higher degree of optimism regarding the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market, as well as their earnings," Lynn Franco, the Conference Board's director of economic indicators, said in a statement.

The survey's present situation index improved to 112.6 in January from an upwardly revised 99.9 in December, while the expectations index rose to 96.4 from 88.5.

The jobs "hard-to-get" index fell again, suggesting less pessimism among Americans seeking jobs. This labor gauge declined to 25.7 in January from a downwardly revised 27.3 previous month.

Consumers' inflation outlook remained stable despite the recent drop in gasoline prices. The Conference Board's one-year consumer inflation rate expectation was 5.0 percent. December's inflation index was revised down to 5.0 percent from the originally reported 5.1 percent.

(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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