Area Development
The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 52.5 in December, down from 54.3 in November. The Present Situation and Expectations Indices also dropped, to 23.5 and 71.9, respectively.

"Despite this month's modest decline, consumer confidence is no worse off today than it was a year ago. Consumers' assessment of the current state of the economy and labor market remains tepid, and their outlook remains cautious. Thus, all signs continue to suggest that the economic expansion will continue well into 2011, but that the pace of growth will remain moderate," said Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center at The Conference Board.

Despite the weakening index, 41.2 percent of surveyed consumers said business conditions were "bad," down from 42.9 percent in November. But those who said business conditions were "good" also fell to 7.5 percent from 8.5 percent in November.

The labor market continues to weigh on surveyed consumers, as only 3.9 percent said jobs were "plentiful," down from 4.3 percent in November. And the number of respondents who said jobs were "hard to get" rose to 46.8 percent from 46.3 percent.