December 28, 2005

CORRECTED: Consumer confidence improves in December

Please read ... survey showed on Wednesday ... instead of
... survey showed on Tuesday.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumer confidence improved in
December to the highest level since August, before Hurricane
Katrina slammed into the U.S. Gulf and sent gasoline to record
highs, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The Conference Board said its index of consumer sentiment
rose in December to 103.6 from a November reading of 98.3,
which had been downwardly revised from 98.9.

Economists polled by Reuters on average had forecast the
index likely rose to 101.8.

"The resiliency of the economy, recent declines in prices
at the pump and job growth have consumers feeling more
confident at year-end than they felt at the start of 2005,"
said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer
Research Center.

The business research group's present situation index rose
to 121.5 from a downwardly revised 113.2, while the
expectations component increased to 91.6 from a downwardly
revised 88.4 in November.

Consumers grew more optimistic about the jobs market at
year-end, according to the Conference Board.

The survey's measure of the difficulty in finding jobs fell
to 22.2 in December from an upwardly revised 23.6 in November,
making this the lowest reading this year.

Sentiment indexes have traditionally been seen as a gauge
of U.S. consumer spending, which accounts for roughly
two-thirds of overall economic activity.