The Conference Board Consumer Confidence figure at 61.1 was much weaker than expectations of 68 and is down from 64.8 in Dec. It is still though the 2nd best reading since May ’11 as it jumped almost 10 pts in Dec. The main driver of the fall was an 8 pt drop in the Present Situation component as Expectations were down only slightly. The answers to the labor market questions weakened as those that said jobs were Plentiful fell .5 pt and those that said jobs were Hard To Get rose almost 2 pts. Business conditions also softened slightly as those that said things were Good fell and those that said things were Bad rose. Those that plan to buy a home within 6 mo’s fell 1.2 pts to the lowest since Aug and those that plan on buying an auto fell to the lowest since Oct ’10. One year inflation expectations ticked back up to 5.5% from 5.3% as gasoline prices have moved to the highest since late Oct. Bottom line, confidence is back below its 5 yr average but still above its one yr average and the difference reflects a growing economy that is creating jobs but the pace remains mediocre.
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