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Consumer confidence improves

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(Read caption) This chart shows the annual change in the University of Michigan's "consumer sentiment" index since 2000. So far, consumer confidence has improved in January 2012.

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Yesterday's early release of the Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers for January indicated improvement in consumer sentiment with a reading of 74.0 and falling just 0.27% below the level seen last year while one year inflation expectations rose slightly to 3.2%.

The Index of Consumer Expectations (a component of the Conference Board's Index of Leading Economic Indicators) rose to 68.4, and the Current Economic Conditions Index climbed to 82.6.

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It's important to recognize that consumer sentiment has seriously eroded over the past few months with the current results remaining near levels not seen since 1980, a major indication that consumers are in the process of tightening even further on spending.