Consumer sentiment gained another five points in an early December measure, putting confidence levels at a near eight-year high. The Thomson Reuters-University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment came in at a preliminary index reading of 93.8 for December, up from November's final reading of 88.8. December's report beat economists' forecasts by more than four points and puts the index at its highest level since January 2007. While the month's final index could see an adjustment, the latest reading is a positive sign in the middle of the holiday shopping season.
Increases in the latest measure were broad-based. The gauge measuring consumer expectations jumped more than six points to hit 86.1, also the highest since January 2007, while the measure of consumer economic sentiment was up three points to 105.7. In a statement, survey director Richard Curtin noted that expected wage gains are at their highest level since 2008, and consumer attitudes toward buying are the most favorable they've been in several decades.
After trudging along a sluggish track in 2014, the market for new homes is projected to make a comeback next year, Fitch Ratings says in a new forecast. Looking at the year ahead, the ratings firm predicts a bounce in both supply and demand for homes as the economy continues to steadily expand and both employment measures and consumer confidence see improvement. The agency's forecast echoes predictions in a recent survey of economists conducted by the Wall Street Journal. The panel of experts called for housing starts to jump to nearly one and a quarter million in 2015, a leap from the expected 1.05 million new units started this year.