Consumer confidence climbs to highest level since 2008

U.S. consumer confidence increased in December to its highest level since February 2008, according to the Conference Board’s latest report released Tuesday.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its December index of consumer attitudes rose to 92.6 from an upwardly revised 91.0 the month before. November was originally reported as 88.7.

“Consumer confidence rebounded modestly in December, propelled by a considerably more favorable assessment of current economic and labor market conditions,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. “…They are more confident at year-end than they were at the beginning of the year.”

The present situation index rose to 98.6 from a revised 93.7 in November. The present situation index is now at its highest level since February 2008. The expectations index in December was 88.5 vs. November’s revised 89.3.

The economy grew from July through September at a 5 percent annual rate, its 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 of 5.8 percent in November.

Plummeting gasoline prices are putting some cash back in consumers’ pockets. According to AAA, the average gallon of gasoline nationwide costs $2.29, down from $2.78 a month ago.

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