NEW YORK — The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index increased in December, following an upward trend from November, the independent research group reported today.

The Index now stands at 64.5, up from 55.2 in November. The Present Situation Index increased to 46.7 from 38.3, while the Expectations Index rose to 76.4 from 66.4.

"After two months of considerable gains, the Consumer Confidence Index is now back to levels seen last spring (April 2011, 66.0). Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions improved again,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Looking ahead, consumers are more optimistic that business conditions, employment prospects, and their financial situations will continue to get better. While consumers are ending the year in a somewhat more upbeat mood, it is too soon to tell if this is a rebound from earlier declines or a sustainable shift in attitudes."

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was Dec. 14.

Consumers' assessment of current conditions also improved in December, with the percentage of those who stated that business conditions are "good" increasing to 16.6 percent from 13.9 percent. Those stating business conditions are "bad" declined to 33.9 percent from 38 percent. Additionally, consumers' assessment of the job market also was more positive, as those claiming jobs are "plentiful" increased to 6.7 percent from 5.6 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 41.8 percent from 43 percent.

The proportion of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months also increased to 16.7 percent from 13.7 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined to 13.4 percent from 16.1 percent.

Consumers' outlook for the job market also was more favorable. Individuals who are anticipating more jobs in the coming months increased to 13.3 percent from 12.4 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 20.2 percent from 23.8 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes improved to 17.1 percent from 14.1 percent.

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