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Index of California consumer sentiment falls slightly in quarter

December 11, 2012|By Ricardo Lopez
  • Consumer confidence in California fell slightly in the last three months of 2012 but remains near its highest level since the start of the recession, according to a Chapman University index. Above, shoppers visit Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills..
Consumer confidence in California fell slightly in the last three months… (Patrick Fallon / Bloomberg )

Consumer confidence in California weakened slightly in the fourth quarter of this year, according to a Chapman University index released Tuesday.

The California Composite Index of Consumer Confidence decreased to 92.7 from a revised third-quarter reading of 93.4, which was its highest level since the recession, according to the university.

Despite the latest decline, the index shows consumer confidence has been steadily rising as the labor market has improved.

Quiz: The year in business

The gauge is based on a survey of consumers about their outlook on current and future economic conditions and their spending plans.

The index of current economic conditions, a component of the overall index, was 80.6 in the fourth quarter, down nearly four points from a third-quarter reading of 84.2.

The biggest drop was in the index measuring consumers' confidence in future economic conditions, which fell to 98.6 from 105.

That slide probably reflects consumers' worries about the looming "fiscal cliff" -- the year-end federal tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect if Congress does not take action, Chapman economists said. The passage of Proposition 30 in California, which will increase state taxes, also has apparently dampened consumer sentiment.

The index of future spending plans, however, showed a surge in consumers' willingness to spend on big-ticket items such as electronics and appliances.  The index rose 17 points to 105.4 from 88.4.

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ricardo.lopez2@latimes.com

Follow Ricardo Lopez on Twitter.

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