US Consumer Confidence Eases in February: Conference Board
US consumer confidence declined moderately in February, as concerns over the short-term outlook weighed on sentiment.
The Conference Board’s gauge of consumer confidence declined from 79.4 to 78.1 in February. The median forecast in a Reuters poll called for 80. The confidence indicator rose to a five-month high in January on positive appraisals of the labour market.
Consumers’ confidence in the current situation improved for the fourth consecutive month, as more respondents indicated that business conditions are “good.” Consumers’ appraisal of the labour market also improved, despite consecutive months of weaker than forecast jobs growth. Consumers who believe jobs are “plentiful” rose from 12.5 percent to 13.9 percent, while respondents saying jobs are “hard to get” decreased slightly from 32.7 to 32.5.
Expectations, meanwhile, declined in February after improving moderately the past two months. The percentage of respondents expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased moderately, while those claiming business conditions will worsen increased more sharply.
“Consumer confidence declined moderately in February, on concern over the short-term outlook for business conditions, jobs, and earnings,” said Conference Board director Lynn Franco. “While expectations have fluctuated over recent months, current conditions have continued to trend upward and the Present Situation Index is now at its highest level in almost six years (April 2008, 81.9). This suggests that consumers believe the economy has improved, but they do not foresee it gaining considerable momentum in the months ahead.”
Severe weather crippled US productivity this winter, with major industries reporting considerable declines. Retail sales, a gauge of consumer spending and confidence, declined 0.4 percent last month. January marked the biggest drop in retail sales since June 2012.
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