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Consumer Confidence Remains at Recent High


January 31 — Consumer confidence in January remained at its highest level in some three years, finds the most recent Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers.

Encouraged by the recently-extended tax cuts, as well as a 2% cut in wage taxes, consumers anticipate a stronger economy in the year ahead and with it, a lower unemployment rate, said a Survey news release.

However, consumers register somewhat diminished financial prospects, due largely to rising food and fuel prices. Half of all consumers now expect their inflation-adjusted incomes to fall slightly in 2011. "Consumersí buying attitudes toward a wide range of household durables as well as vehicles, have also weakened," said the news release.

The Consumer Sentiment Index was 74.2 in January, just below Decemberís 74.5 and 74.4 one year ago. The Current Conditions Index fell 4.1% versus December, while the Expectations Index increased 2.7%.

"Consumers have become increasingly concerned with rising food and fuel prices, and have noticed that fewer and smaller discounts are now available at stores and vehicle dealerships," said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Survey. "If rising global demand puts continued upward pressure on prices, inflation is likely to be the source of considerable discontent among consumers," he added.

Read the full news release.