Consumer confidence jumps in January

Consumers continue to gain more confidence in the economic recovery, as a monthly tally of consumer confidence jumped for the second straight month.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index climbed to 80.7 in January, up from 77.5 in December. Economist surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a more modest gain to 78.

That monthly tally on consumer confidence found Americans generally believe business conditions are improving, and finding jobs more plentiful. However, that optimism was measured. Those expecting business conditions to improve over six months remained flat. And on the labor front, those polled were less likely to expect more jobs in the coming months, but also less likely to expect fewer ones. Incomes are expected to rise over the next half a year.

Consumer confidence has risen in the past two months, and is inching towards the last year’s high of 82.1 reached in June. Economic confidence from the public took a significant hit during the 16-day government shutdown in October.

The strong confidence numbers come amid a mixed stretch for some economic news. The stock market has taken a beating the last several days, driven by concerns about the strength of emerging market economies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, up early on Tuesday, had fallen sharply over the last several days.

But new housing data released Tuesday found that home prices in 20 U.S. cities were up year over year by the most since 2006.

The confidence data also comes as the Federal Reserve sits down to produce a fresh policy statement. The central bank is trying to slowly unwind the years’ worth of stimulus it has pumped into the economy, and to do so without upsetting markets or undercutting confidence. A new policy statement is due out Wednesday.