US consumer confidence expected to grow in December

MarketsAssociated Press

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

GROWING CONFIDENCE: The consumer confidence index is expected to rise to 93 this month from a November reading of 88.7, according to a survey of economists by FactSet. The index had hit a seven-year high 94.5 in October before tumbling last month.

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REASONS TO BE HAPPY: Consumers have plenty of reasons to feel better. The economy grew from July through September at a 5 percent annual rate, fastest clip in 11 years. Employers are adding nearly 241,000 jobs a month this year — on pace to make 2014 the best year for hiring since 1999. The unemployment rate remained at a six-year low 5.8 percent last month. The missing piece of the economic recovery is pay: Wages are barely keeping up with inflation.

Still, tumbling gasoline prices are putting a bit of cash back in consumers' pockets: According to AAA, the average gallon of gasoline nationwide costs $2.29, down from $2.78 a month ago.

Another measure of consumer confidence — the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index — jumped this month to 93.6 from 88 in November. Michigan's December reading was the highest since January 2007, nearly a year before the Great Recession began.