Consumer Confidence Improves

NEW YORK — Consumers' outlook for the economy improved in December, according to the latest Consumer Confidence Index, published Tuesday by The Conference Board here.

The overall index reached 64.5 on a scale of 0-100, up from 55.2 in November, when the index also rose over October levels.

"Looking ahead, consumers are more optimistic that business conditions, employment prospects and their financial situations will continue to get better," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer

Research Center. "While consumers are ending the year in a somewhat more upbeat mood, it is too soon to tell if this is a rebound from earlier declines or a sustainable shift in attitudes."

Respondents stating business conditions are "good" increased to 16.6% from 13.9% in November, while those stating business conditions are "bad" declined to 33.9% from 38.0%. Those claiming jobs are "plentiful" increased to 6.7% from 5.6%, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 41.8% from 43.0%.

Consumers' short-term outlook also improved in December. The proportion of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 16.7% from 13.7%, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined to 13.4% from 16.1%.