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Ahead of the Bell: US Consumer Confidence

January 26, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Conference Board releases its January index on U.S. consumer confidence at 10 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday.

FEELING BETTER: Economists expect the index to rise for a second straight month to 97 in January, from 96.5 last month, according to a survey by the data firm FactSet.

MORE HIRING: Consumers’ spirits have been lifted by a strong job market. Hiring was solid for most of 2015 and gained real strength at the end of the year. From October through December, employers added a healthy 284,000 jobs a month. The unemployment rate remained at a seven-year low 5 percent in December. Hourly pay is still lagging. It rose 2.5 percent last month from a year earlier, only the second time since the recession ended in mid-2009 that it’s risen that much. But hourly pay usually grows about 3.5 percent a year in a healthy economy.

FILL ’ER UP: Consumers have also enjoyed a big drop in gasoline prices. The average price of a gallon of gasoline has fallen to $1.83 from $2 a month ago, according to AAA.

GLOBAL WOES: So far, the U.S. economy and the mood of American consumers have held up despite growing signs of trouble abroad. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have both downgraded the world’s economic prospects this year. A slowdown in China hurts its trading partners in the developing world and drives down commodity prices. U.S. manufacturers have been hurt by weakening global demand and a strong dollar, which makes U.S. goods more expensive in foreign markets. American factories added just 30,000 jobs last year, fewest since the recession year 2009.