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Data: The Conference Board, University of Michigan; Chart: Axios Visuals

Consumer confidence continues to improve but remains well below the levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic despite the rebound in housing and equity markets, surveys show.

Driving the news: The University of Michigan released its latest consumer sentiment index Friday showing an overall small improvement that was the result of increasing optimism about the future and pessimism about the present.

What they're saying: "The Current Conditions Index recorded its second small reversal, the first being in June, but even at its best, it has never come close to its December peak, being still down by 26.5%," the survey's analysts said in a release.

  • "The Expectations Index, despite the recent gain, is still down by 14.4% from its February peak."

The state of play: Hamilton Place and CivicScience's Economic Sentiment Index found a similar divergence in consumers' attitudes about the economy in its latest survey.

  • Respondents showed notable improvement in feelings about their personal finances, confidence in making a major purchase and confidence in the housing market.
  • However, confidence in the overall U.S. economy declined, and confidence in finding a new job dropped as well. It was the first time either metric has been lower than the previous survey since July.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 8, 2021 - World

Food costs are rising all over the world

Data: UN FAO food price index; Chart: Axios Visuals

Year-end data from the U.S. and around the world show a consistent theme — steadily increasing prices.

Driving the news: The Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index rose for the seventh straight month in December, rising to its highest in six years.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

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