NEW YORK: Despite the credit crunch and a southbound property market, consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in December, reports US research organization The Conference Board.

US consumers, it seems, are in cheerier mode than the nation's economists and moneymen. Based on Joe Public's expectations for the future, the Board's Consumer Confidence Index rose from 87.8 in November (1985=100) to 88.6 this month.

However, respondents are less bullish about the here and now. The Present Situation Index dived to 108.3 from November's 115.7.

The survey, conducted for the Board by Taylor Nelson Sofres, is based on a representative sample of 5,000 US households.

Comments the Board's consumer research director Lynn Franco: "This month's slight gain in confidence was due solely to an increase in the Expectations Index. Consumers' short-term outlook regarding business conditions, employment, inflation and stock prices improved marginally.

"However, while consumers are less negative about the near-term future, they remain far from optimistic. Furthermore, persistent declines in the Present Situation Index indicate the economy is still losing momentum.

"In fact, in assessing the current job market, pessimists now outnumber optimists. Regarding business conditions, the gap between the two is almost nonexistent."

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff