U.S. Confidence Index at Three-Year High After Change

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The Conference Board’s index of U.S. consumer confidence climbed to an almost three-year peak in January, higher than previously estimated, reflecting changes in sampling methodology.

The New York-based research group said today its sentiment gauge rose to 65.6 last month, the highest level since March 2008 and up from the eight-month high of 60.6 previously estimated.

In an e-mailed statement, the group said its data will now be collected by New York-based Nielsen Holdings NV and will use a “probability-design random sample” to determine who will be surveyed. Reston, Virginia-based TNS Inc., which had been collecting the data for the group since 1967, has discontinued the program, Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s consumer research center, said in a conference call with reporters.

The Conference Board has been running parallel tests of both sets of data for the past five months, and concluded the two methods are consistent, Franco said on the call.

“There is not really a significant change in confidence levels,” said Franco. The gauges “overall remain quite weak.”

The group revised the figures back to November using the new sampling method and said prior data will not be changed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Carlos Torres at in Washington or Cctorres2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz cwellisz@bloomberg.net