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 NEW YORK, Dec. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Conference Board's Consumer

Confidence Index (1985 equals 100), which had registered sharp drops in October and November, remained substantially unchanged in December. The latest Index reading is 52.4, about the same as the revised November figure, 52.7.
 In December, consumers' assessment of the economy was less positive than in the preceding month, but expectations for the months ahead were more optimistic than previously.
 "The unchanged reading of the Consumer Confidence Index in December, following the free-fall experienced in October-November, is good news," says Fabian Linden, executive director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "Still the news is hardly good enough to be reassuring, given the continued deflated level of consumer sentiment. Clearly, an appreciable improvement in the consumer's spirits is a prerequisite for economic recovery."
 In assessing current business conditions, fewer respondents than last time now say they are "good." However, on the employment issue, only 4 percent of consumers report that jobs are "plentiful"; 48 percent report that they are "hard to get." Both these figures are somewhat more negative than in the preceding month.
 In looking ahead to the next six months, consumers are a bit less pessimistic than a month earlier. In the December survey, the number of those that believe business conditions will be "better," and the number that fear they will be "worse" are just about the same. In the previous month, pessimists were somewhat more numerous than optimists on this question.
 Jobs continue to be the consumer's major concern. Ten times as many respondents report that jobs are "hard to get" than those that say they are "plentiful." Similarly, in their expectations of employment opportunities in the months ahead, people continue to be pessimistic. These concerns are realistic, given the continued high level of unemployment insurance claims, and the planned lay-offs announced by some of the nation's major businesses.
 Source: Consumer Confidence Survey, December 1991, The Conference Board.
 -0- 12/30/91
 /CONTACT: Fabian Linden of The Conference Board, 212-339-0303, or home, 212-831-3007/ CO: Conference Board ST: New York IN: SU: ECO FC-KW -- NY002 -- 2799 12/30/91 09:58 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 30, 1991

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