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NY-area consumer confidence spikes in January

Singh Mann pumps gas for a Gulf station

Singh Mann pumps gas for a Gulf station customer on a snowy Tuesday evening, Jan. 21, 2014. Although it was tougher to pump gas in January, the price eased, and consumer confidence in the New York metro area rose, according to a report Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Consumer confidence in the metropolitan area increased sharply last month as worries about the cost of gasoline receded.

The Siena College Research Institute on Wednesday reported its consumer confidence index for Long Island, New York City and its northern suburbs was 81 points in January, up 4.6 from the previous month.

Index readings above 76 points indicate the number of residents who are optimistic about their immediate financial future is greater than those who are pessimistic.

"Consumer sentiment is off to a good start in 2014," said Siena pollster Douglas Lonnstrom. "New Yorkers are feeling better about their place in the economy."

Forty-two percent of people in the metro area told Siena in January that gasoline prices were either a very serious or somewhat serious problem, the lowest number in four months. In December, 47 percent said pump prices were a problem.

Concern about the cost of food was virtually unchanged in January -- 64 percent -- from the previous three months.

Retailers and others closely follow consumer confidence indexes because they can indicate a willingness to spend. Consumer expenditures account for about 70 percent of economic activity on Long Island and across the country.

Statewide, Siena found more residents expect to purchase an automobile, furniture or home in the next six months than said so in January 2013. The number of people planning a major home improvement between now and June was down, year over year.

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