A factor watched closely be economists has made another fortunate spike.Consumer confidence rose almost ten points in December, building on another big increase a month before.

"We're in the mid 60's," said economist Ken Goldstein of the New York-based Conference Board. "We had fallen into the mid 40's back in the summertime when consumers were beginning to give up hope that this economy would ever begin to improve."

According to Goldstein, the state and nation are right where they were a year ago in terms of consumer confidence.

Goldstein said the pleasant December numbers are not due to holiday spending, although recent retail reports have indicated a decent season. He said consumers spent out of savings and borrowing, not income.

His prediction - a post-holiday lull in confidence, followed by a slow boil right through the spring.