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Consumers find 2017 the best year since 2000

Xinhua,December 23, 2017 Adjust font size:

CHICAGO, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. average consumer confidence for 2017 stood at 96.8, the highest since 2000, said University of Michigan (UM) economist Richard Curtin, director of the Survey of Consumers, a rotating panel survey based on a nationally representative sample.

The strength was due to assessments of current economic conditions that were the second highest since 2000, offset by a slight increase in uncertainty about future prospects, Curtin said.

Overall, the data indicate that real personal consumption expenditures will expand by 2.6 percent in 2018.

"Tax reform was spontaneously mentioned by 29 percent of all consumers when they were asked about recent economic developments," Curtin said. "There was nearly an equal split between those that anticipated positive as negative impacts on their future economic prospects."

Consumers reported the most favorable assessments of their current finances in 17 years. In the December survey, and for 2017 as a whole, 50 percent of all consumers reported that their finances had improved.

Improved financial prospects for the year ahead was expected by 40 percent of all consumers in December, equal to the average 2017 reading. This was only marginally below the yearly peak since 1960 of 43 percent recorded in 2000.

Consumers were somewhat more concerned about real income advances as they anticipated slightly lower income gains and a slightly higher inflation rate, Curtin said.

The continued strength in buying plans for household durables is attributable to more frequent price reductions, which are expected to continue following the holidays, according to Curtin. The vehicle market has benefited equally from price discounts as well as low interest rates.

Home-buying conditions drew as many positive as negative references to prices. Changes in tax laws are not expected to have much impact on the overall market, although it will have some negative impact on homes with large mortgages in locales with high tax rates.

The Consumer Sentiment Index was 95.9 in December 2017, down from 98.5 in November and 98.2 in last December; the Current Conditions Index was 113.8 in December, above last month's 113.5 and last year's 111.9; the Expectations Index was 84.3, down from 88.9 in November and 89.5 in last December's survey. Enditem