The latest preliminary numbers from January showed that consumer confidence had declined to 72.7, less than the 74.5 rating observed in December, according to a poll from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. Originally, economists had forecast that the rating would rise to 75.4.
But that estimate came before gas prices surged above a national average of $3 a gallon and unemployment hung near for yet another month closer to 9 percent at this point, the report said. Economic conditions deteriorated to a rating of 79.8 at the beginning of January, down from 85.3 in December.
“The stronger performance of the economy was expected to be reflected in the near term by more favorable expected changes in employment,” said Richard Curtin, director of surveys of consumers from Thomson Reuters and University of Michigan.
However, consumers were still positive about some aspects of the economy going forward, the report said. The 12-month forecast index rose to 87 in the latest poll, the highest rating observed since September 2009.
Continued improvements in most areas of the economy are expected over the course of the coming year, though some aspects, such as the quality of consumer credit, are expected to improve more than others.
Image by Brian A. Sayrs, via Flickr