Consumer Enthusiasm Up Slightly

Consumers are more optimistic about the economy than they have been in the last year, according to the monthly consumer confidence survey by research group the Conference Board.

The Conference Board’s index rose to 52.9 in December, above its level a year ago, but at a 26-year low that is far below the 1985 base level, which is 100.

“The index does not suggest that consumer confidence is high, but it’s better than it was the previous couple of months when it wasn’t very good at all,” said Thomas Lawler, an economist.

Economists tie the still shaky level of confidence to a continuation of declining housing prices. “[Consumers] are out there tentatively, and that is reflected in the housing numbers, too,” says Joel L. Naroff, an economist with Naroff Economic Advisors.

Source: The Washington Post, Dina ElBoghdady (12/30/2009)