U.S. consumer confidence dips in January; spending intentions strong

WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - U.S. consumer confidence ebbed slightly in January, with more consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles and other big ticket items even as they grew less optimistic about business and labor market conditions in the near term.

The Conference Board said on Tuesday its consumer confidence index slipped to a reading of 113.8 this month from a slightly downwardly revised 115.2 in December. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index declining to 111.8 from the previously reported reading of 115.8 in December.

"The Present Situation Index improved, suggesting the economy entered the new year on solid footing," said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board in Washington. "However, expectations about short-term growth prospects weakened, pointing to a likely moderation in growth during the first quarter of 2022."

Franco also noted that the proportion of consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances over the next six months all increased. The dip in confidence likely reflects rising COVID-19 infections.

The United States is reporting an average of 696,541 new coronavirus infections a day, according to a Reuters analysis of official data. The winter wave of infections, driven by the Omicron variant, appears to subsiding in some regions, including the hardest hit New York. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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