Consumer confidence among Californians held steady at the highest level in three years in the first quarter of 2007, according to a survey released Tuesday from Chapman University in Orange.

The California Composite Index of Consumer Sentiment registered at 101.9 in the first quarter, up slightly from 101.0 in the fourth quarter and well above the 88.7 reading for the first quarter of 2006. A reading above 100 indicates a higher percentage of optimistic consumers as compared with those that are pessimistic.

The robust confidence level was driven by a surge in planned spending on big-ticket items, which rose to 111.2 from 103.5 in the fourth quarter.

The survey was taken in mid-February, before last week's stock market drop. If the market downturn persists, the consumer confidence reading for the second quarter could be impacted, said Esmael Adibi, director of the Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.