Fla., US consumer confidence show improvement


Published: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 11:56 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 11:56 a.m.

Consumer confidence rose unexpectedly in January as Florida reached a two-year high and the U.S. index had its best showing in more than a year.

Florida surveyors credited possible relief to post-holiday financial stress and the economic woes of the past year, while U.S. consumers said they feel slightly better about business conditions and employment.

But rising unemployment and rising gas prices are expected to contribute to a decline in Florida consumers' mood toward spending in coming months, said Chris McCarty, survey director of the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

And U.S. analysts worry the nation's unemployment rate - steady at 10 percent from November and December - will start rising again, The Associated Press reported.

The Florida index rose five points to 74, the highest since December 2007.

McCarty said the index has shown similar jumps in January in the past.

All five components of the consumer confidence index increased, with the biggest jump in whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket items up eight points to 83. Perceptions of personal finances, now compared to a year ago, increased five points to 50, and expectations of personal finances a year from now rose five points to 85. Perceptions of U.S. economic conditions over the next year rose six points to 73 and over the next five years rose four points to 78.

The Conference Board's U.S. index rose to 55.9, the highest in more than a year and up from 53.6 in December, the AP reported.

Though up, consumers' moods are still relatively gloomy, with a reading of 90 indicating a solid economy and at least 100 indicating growth.

The Florida index is benchmarked to a 1966 level of 100 and the U.S. index to a 1985 level of 100, so the surveys do not reflect comparable levels of confidence.

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