NEW YORK - The consumer confidence index slid to 61.1 in January from an upwardly revised 64.8 last month, The Conference Board reported Tuesday.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted the index would be 68.0.
The December index was originally reported as 64.5.
The present situation index fell to 38.4 from a downwardly revised 46.5, originally reported as 46.7, while the expectations index declined to 76.2 from an upwardly revised 77.0, originally reported as 76.4.
“Consumer confidence retreated in January, after large back-to-back gains in the final two months of 2011,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions turned more downbeat and is back to November 2011 levels. Regarding the short-term outlook, consumers are more upbeat about employment, but less optimistic about business conditions and their income prospects. Recent increase in gasoline prices may have consumers feeling a little less confident this month.”
Business conditions were called “good” by 13.3% of respondents in January, off from 16.3% in December. Those saying conditions are “bad” grew to 38.7% from 33.5%.
The percentage of consumers expecting a pickup in business conditions in the next half year slid to 16.6% from 16.8%, while 15.1% said they expect conditions to worsen, up from 13.4% the prior month.
On the jobs front, those who believe jobs are “plentiful” fell to 6.1% in January from 6.6% in December, while the number saying jobs are “hard to get” increased to 43.5% this survey from 41.6%. The respondents who see fewer jobs becoming available in a half year, slid to 19.5% from 20.2%. Those expecting more jobs to become available climbed to 16.2% from 14.0%, The Conference Board reported.
Income expectations were lower, with 13.8% of consumers anticipating an increase in their income in the next six months, down from the prior month's 16.3%, while 14.7% expect their income to decrease, up from 14.3% in the prior month’s survey.
The number of consumers who expected to buy a home in the next six months fell to 4.2% from 5.4%, while the number of respondents planning to buy a car slid to 9.6% from 10.2%. Fewer consumers than last month said they plan to buy a major appliance in the next six months (47.0% vs. 47.6%).
More respondents than last month (50.9% vs. 48.9%) expect to take a vacation in the next six months, but more said they would stay in the U.S. rather than leave the country. Cars rather than airplanes were the preferred mode of travel, by a 27.9%-21.2% margin.
The consumer confidence survey is based on a probability design random sample by the Nielsen Company.