The latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was released this morning based on data collected through January 18. The headline number of 125.4 was an increase from the final reading of 123.1 for December, an upward revision from 122.1. Today's number was above the consensus of 123.1.

Here is an excerpt from the Conference Board press release.

“Consumer confidence improved in January after declining in December,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions decreased slightly, but remains at historically strong levels. Expectations improved, though consumers were somewhat ambivalent about their income prospects over the coming months, perhaps the result of some uncertainty regarding the impact of the tax plan. Overall, however, consumers remain quite confident that the solid pace of growth seen in late 2017 will continue into 2018.”

Putting the Latest Number in Context

The chart below is another attempt to evaluate the historical context for this index as a coincident indicator of the economy. Toward this end, we have highlighted recessions and included GDP. The regression through the index data shows the long-term trend and highlights the extreme volatility of this indicator. Statisticians may assign little significance to a regression through this sort of data. But the slope resembles the regression trend for real GDP shown below, and it is a more revealing gauge of relative confidence than the 1985 level of 100 that the Conference Board cites as a point of reference.

Consumer Confidence