U.S. Consumer Confidence Index. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® increased moderately, jumping 1.8 points from 96.3 in December to 98.1 in January.
The Present Situation Index remained unchanged at 116.4, and the Expectations Index increased 2.9 points from 83.0 to 85.9.
Opinions about the current state of the economy hasn’t changed much. Consumers who said business conditions are “good” remained at 27.2 percent, while those who said business conditions are “bad” decreased 0.4 percent to 18.5 percent. Opinions about the labor market also declined. Those who claimed jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 24.2 percent to 22.8 percent, but those who claimed jobs are “hard to get” also decreased from 24.5 percent to 23.4 percent.
Consumers remain positive about the short-term outlook of the economy. The percentage of consumers who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months, rose from 14.5 percent to 16.2 percent. Likewise, consumers expect the labor market to continue improving. The percentage of consumers who anticipate more jobs in the next six months increased from 12.4 percent in December to 13.2 percent in January.
U.S. Consumer Price Index. The U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreased 0.3 percent at the end of last year, but has increased 0.7 percent over the last 12 months, remaining below the Federal Reserve’s national inflation target of 2 percent. Annual inflation for 2015 averaged 0.1 percent, with a 0.1-percent decline in the first half of the year and a 0.3-percent increase in the second half of the year.
The two indexes that experience the most volatility—energy and food—both fell for the second month in a row, which contributed to the overall decline of the CPI. Flagging gasoline and oil indexes brought the energy index down 2.4 percent. The food index decreased 0.2 percent, primarily as food at home prices for meat, poultry, fish, and eggs fell.
In contrast, the ‘all items less food and energy’ index rose 0.1 percent in December, which marks the smallest increase since August. Shelter, medical care, auto insurance, education, and tobacco prices increased in December, while prices for clothing, airline fares, personal care, new vehicles, and communication decreased.