Are American shoppers at last stepping back from the ledge? The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index shot up 10 points in December to 64.5, the AP reports. That's its highest reading since April and closing in on its post-recession peak of 72, which was achieved in February. Consumers were somewhat more upbeat in their view of the economy, with that metric bumping from 38.3 to 46.7, and significantly more upbeat about their own prospects for the next six months, which rose from 66.4 to 76.4.
Still, the index is well below the 90 bar that tends to indicate a strong economy, so analysts are not jumping for joy just yet. "While consumers are ending the year in a somewhat more upbeat mood, it is too soon to tell if this is a rebound from earlier declines or a sustainable shift in attitudes," the director of the Conference Board said. (Read more consumer confidence stories.)