US consumer confidence dips slightly in December

An unexpected dip in consumer confidence hit during the crucial holiday shopping period (AFP Photo/David Dee Delgado)

Washington (AFP) - US consumers were a little less confident in December, as hopes for jobs and wages dimmed slightly, survey data showed Tuesday.

Overall, consumer confidence remained at solid levels, but the unexpected dip hit during the crucial holiday shopping period. Consumer spending is a mainstay of the world's largest economy.

Lynn Franco, head of economic indicators at the Conference Board, which produces the monthly report, said the numbers reflected a belief that the economy's expansion could lose steam at the start of next year.

"While the economy hasn't shown signs of further weakening, there is little to suggest that growth, and in particular consumer spending, will gain momentum in early 2020," she said in a statement.

The closely-watched Consumer Confidence Index fell marginally to a reading of 126.5, retreating from an upwardly revised 126.8 November level and falling short of economists' expectations.

Survey respondents said their current situations improved: those saying business conditions were "good" were unchanged at 38.7 percent while those who said conditions were "bad" fell 2.5 points to 11.1 percent.

The short-term outlook was less rosy, however. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead were less numerous, falling 1.2 points to 15.3 percent, but those expecting fewer jobs rose 1.5 points to 14.9 percent.

The share expecting lower incomes also rose 1.5 points to 7.7 percent.