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Consumer confidence improves in December, a hopeful sign for the economy

A sales associate helps customers as they consider the purchase of a big-screen television at a Costco warehouse on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, in Sheridan, Colo. U.S. consumer confidence fell to a reading of 96.1 in November as rising coronavirus cases pushed Americans’ confidence down to the lowest level since August. The Conference Board said the November reading represented a drop from a revised 101.4 in October. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(CNN) — American consumers’ confidence in the US economy grew in December as high inflation continued to ease, according to data released Wednesday by the Conference Board.

The business think tank’s latest consumer confidence index registered 108.3 this month, a significant jump from the upwardly revised measure of 101.4 in November. Economists were expecting the index to come in at 101, according to consensus estimates on Refinitiv.

It’s the highest reading for the index since April 2022.

“The Present Situation and Expectations Indexes improved due to consumers’ more favorable view regarding the economy and jobs,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “Inflation expectations retreated in December to their lowest level since September 2021, with recent declines in gas prices a major impetus.”

The latest survey showed that while consumers’ intentions to spend money on vacations perked up, their’ plans to buy homes and purchase big-ticket appliances cooled.

Consumer confidence, as measured by this and other surveys like the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, has mostly been on a downward trajectory for much of 2022 as the country grappled with the highest rates of inflation seen in four decades.