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U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Improves In January

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Consumer confidence in the U.S. has unexpectedly improved in the month of January, according to a report released by the Conference Board on Tuesday.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index climbed to 98.1 in January from a downwardly revised 96.3 in December.

Economists had expected the index to edge down to 96.0 from the 96.5 originally reported for the previous month.

"For now, consumers do not foresee the volatility in financial markets as having a negative impact on the economy," said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board.

The report said the present situation index for January was unchanged from the previous month at 116.4, as consumers' assessment of current conditions held steady.

The percentage of consumers saying business conditions are "good" was virtually unchanged at 27.2 percent, while those saying conditions are "bad" edged down to 18.5 percent from 18.9 percent.

The assessment of the labor market was modestly more positive, as consumer saying jobs are "plentiful" dipped to 22.8 percent from 24.2 percent but those saying jobs are "hard to get" fell to 23.4 percent from 24.5 percent.

Reflecting a moderate improvement in consumer expectations for the next six months, the expectations index climbed to 85.9 in January from 83.0 in December.

The Conference Board said the percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose to 16.2 percent from 14.5 percent, while those expecting conditions to worsen edged down to 10.3 percent from 10.8 percent.

Consumers were also slightly more optimistic about the outlook for the labor market, as those expecting more jobs in the months ahead ticked up to 13.2 percent from 12.4 percent and those anticipating fewer jobs slipped to 16.5 percent from 16.8 percent.

Friday morning, the University of Michigan is scheduled to release its final report on consumer sentiment in the month of January.

The consumer sentiment index is expected to be downwardly revised to 93.0 from the preliminary estimate of 93.3, although that would still be above the final December reading of 92.6.

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