The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index reached 60.6 this month, which was better than expected.
The positive signal was mirrored by data from a recent Gallup poll.
“Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index improved to an average of -21 in Gallup Daily tracking so far in January, up from -28 in December. If these optimism levels continue through the end of the month, January 2011 will have the most positive economic confidence score since Gallup began daily measurement in January 2008.”
It remains hard to fathom what consumers see in the future that could possibly be so bright. Housing prices dropped again in most major markets in November according to the S&P/Case-Shiller data. Most joblessness indicators show that hiring may move up a very modest amount in the first quarter. But, layoffs of government employees could be great enough to drive overall unemployment higher.
Hope springs eternal.
Douglas A. McIntyre