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US consumer optimism declines in December

Consumer optimism in the U.S. about future economic conditions declined in December, but sentiment about current economic conditions improved further in the month, The Conference Board said.

Consumer confidence fell to 122.1 in December from a 17-year high of 128.6 in November. "Despite the decline in confidence, consumers' expectations remain at historically strong levels, suggesting economic growth will continue well into 2018," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

The expectations index, which measures consumer attitudes about business, employment and total family income over the next six months, declined to 99.1 in December from 111.0 in the previous month.

The present situation index, a measure of consumers' assessment of current business and employment conditions, increased to 156.6 in December from 154.9 in November.

The percentage of consumers who said business conditions are "good" edged up slightly to 35.2% from 35.0%, and the percentage of those who said conditions are "bad" decreased slightly to 12.1% from 12.3%. Consumers had mixed views about the conditions of the labor market. The percentage of those saying jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 35.7% from 37.5%, while the percentage of those who said jobs are "hard to get" fell to 15.2% from 16.8%.

The percentage of consumers who expect business conditions to worsen and fewer jobs to be available in the coming months as well as those who expect a decrease in short-term income prospects all increased in December from the previous month. The percentage of those who expect business conditions to improve, more jobs to be open in the months ahead and an improvement in their income fell from the previous month.