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Happy New Year! On the eve of 2002, consumer confidence rebounded after five months of decline. In December, the consumer confidence index, the Conference Board's monthly survey of American households, rose more than eight points to 93.7 points. Still, consumer appraisals of business conditions are mixed. While those describing the situation as "good" rose slightly, from 16.8% to 17.0%, the number who judged it "bad" increased as well: to 21.7% from 20.7%. Overall, though, consumers' outlook for the future is up.

Purchasing intentions are on the upswing, too. Planned auto and home buys rose in December, but potential appliance purchases dropped.

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