Politics & Money

January consumer sentiment posts 11-month high

Consumer sentiment climbed to an index level of 75 in January, the best reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey in nearly a year.

The survey released Friday was revised from a 74 mid-month reading and rose from 69.9 in December. January’s level also edged a 74.2 reading from a year ago and marked the fourth-highest level since January 2008.

Economists surveyed by Econoday expected a 74 reading for January, with a range of estimates between 71.5 and 77.5.

Positive job news, with 8.5% unemployment in December, impacted consumer outlook. Survey director Richard Curtin said a record number of respondents said they heard about recent job gains, tying a 1983 mark.

Half of those consumers, however, expected no change in unemployment. Curtin said any recent upticks “critically dependent” on upbeat job numbers. This is the third-straight year, he said, consumer sentiment saw a comparable comeback.

“All prior rallies failed when consumers concluded that the improvement they had anticipated had failed to materialized,” Curtin said in the report.

The bimonthly index surveys consumers on economic attitudes, employment outlook and financial status. A 100 reading, benchmarked in 1966, reflects exceptionally high consumer sentiment.

Expectations from consumers led the growth, according to Econoday, as January posted a 69.1 expectations reading from 63.6 in December.

Write to Andrew Scoggin.

Follow him on Twitter @AScoggin.

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