Yesterday the Conference Board announced the Consumer Confidence Index for January had climbed to 103.4. That’s an increase of 0.7 points from the 102.7 posted in December.

In addition the Present Situation Index increased from 105.7 to 110.9. The Expectations Index, however, declined from 100.7 to 98.4.

"Despite the slight retreat in expectations, consumers' short-term outlook remains favorable and suggests the economy will continue to expand throughout the first half of this year," says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "And, recent advances in the Present Situation Index, now at its highest level since May 2002, suggest consumers will not dramatically alter their spending in the months ahead."

Consumers' overall assessment of current conditions improved in January. Those claiming business conditions are "good" increased to 26.0 percent from 24.4 percent. However, those claiming conditions are "bad" rose to 18.2 percent from 17.8 percent.

The employment picture was more favorable also. Consumers saying jobs are "plentiful" increased to 20.7 percent from 19.4 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" fell from 26.4 percent to 24.7 percent.

Consumers' short-term outlook, while not as optimistic as a month ago, remains positive. Those anticipating business conditions to improve in the next six months declined from 22.4 percent to 21.1 percent. Consumers expecting business conditions to worsen increased moderately from 7.7 percent to 8.0 percent.

The outlook for the labor market remains virtually unchanged. Now, 16.3 percent of consumers, compared to 16.4 percent last month, expect more jobs to become available in the coming months. Those expecting fewer jobs edged up to 15.5 percent from 15.3 percent. Consumers expecting their incomes to improve in the months ahead edged down to 18.0 percent from 21.0 percent last month.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by TNS NFO. TNS NFO is one of the TNS group of companies The cutoff date for January's preliminary results was January 19th.

The Conference Board