The numbers: Consumer confidence bounced back a bit in January as Americans looked past the high number of coronavirus cases and deaths toward greater availability of vaccines and an improving economy.
The index of consumer confidence rose to 89.3 this month from a revised 87.1 in December, the Conference Board said Tuesday. Last month’s reading was the lowest in five months.
Economists polled by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had forecast a small decline to 88.
Confidence is still far below pre-pandemic levels, however. The index stood at 132.6 before the viral outbreak last February.
What happened: An index that tracks how consumers feel about the economy right now slipped in December. It fell to 84.4 from 87.2.
The record spike in coronavirus cases over the winter dampened confidence and hurt the economy after more states reinstituted restrictions on individuals and companies.
Yet another gauge that assesses how Americans view the next six months —the so-called future expectations index — rose strongly. It jumped to 92.5 from 87 and hit the highest level in three months.
The big picture: The next few months are likely to be dicey before the economy fully turns the corner. Americans are as worried as ever about the coronavirus, but they are more hopeful the worst of the pandemic is over. The number of coronavirus cases is on the decline again and vaccines are being delivered in ever-rising amounts.
What they are saying? “Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions weakened further in January, with COVID-19 still the major suppressor,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the nonprofit board.
“Consumers’ expectations for the economy and jobs, however, advanced further, suggesting that consumers foresee conditions improving in the not-too-distant future. ”