PhotoAfter declining moderately in November, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index showed a little improvement this month, rising 3.9 points from November -- to 96.5. In addition, the Present Situation Index increased from 110.9 last month to 115.3, and the Expectations Index rose to 83.9 from November's 80.4.

“As 2015 draws to a close, consumers’ assessment of the current state of the economy remains positive, particularly their assessment of the job market,” said Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Looking ahead to 2016, consumers are expecting little change in both business conditions and the labor market. Expectations regarding their financial outlook are mixed, but the optimists continue to outweigh the pessimists.”

A closer look

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was mixed in December. Those saying business conditions are “good” rose from 25.0% to 27.3%. However, those who see business conditions as “bad” also increased -- from 16.9% to 19.8%.

On the other hand, consumers were more positive about the labor market. The proportion who think jobs are “plentiful” jumped to 24.1% from 21.0%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 24.7% from 25.8%.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook was somewhat mixed. Those who expect business conditions will improve over the next six months dipped slightly to 15.2% from 15.7%. At the same time, those expecting business conditions to worsen inched up to 11.0% from 10.6%.

Crystal gazing

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead rose to 12.9% from 12.0%, while those anticipating fewer jobs dropped from 18.5% to 16.6%.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell from 17.3% to 16.3%, with the proportion expecting a reduction in income slipping from 11.8% to 9.7%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, which provides information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was December 15.

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