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WASHINGTON — American consumers are the most optimistic they’ve been since 2001.
The consumer confidence index climbed to 113.7 in December, The Conference Board said Tuesday. That’s an increase from 109.4 in November and the highest since it reached 114 in August 2001.
The index measures how consumers feel about current conditions and their expectations for the future, which hit a 13-year high.
“Consumer Confidence improved further in December, due solely to increasing Expectations which hit a 13-year high (Dec. 2003, 107.4),” said The Conference Board ‘s Economic Indicators Director Lynn Franco. “The post-election surge in optimism for the economy, jobs and income prospects, as well as for stock prices which reached a 13-year high, was most pronounced among older consumers. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, which declined, still suggests that economic growth continued through the final months of 2016. Looking ahead to 2017, consumers’ continued optimism will depend on whether or not their expectations are realized.”
Franco said the “post-election surge in optimism” was strongest among older Americans.
Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined in December. Those saying business conditions are “good” decreased slightly from 29.7 percent to 29.2 percent, while those saying business conditions are “bad” increased from 15.2 percent to 17.3 percent.
However, their short-term outlook improved considerably in December. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 16.4 percent to 23.6 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen declined from 9.9 percent to 8.7 percent.