Consumer confidence bounces back in March

The Conference Board said today that its Consumer Confidence Index improved in March.

The Conference Board said today that its Consumer Confidence Index improved in March after falling in February.

The index stands at 96.2, up from 94.0 in February. The Present Situation Index declined moderately, from 115 to 113.5, and the Expectations Index increased from 79.9 to 84.7.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions posted a moderate decline, while expectations regarding the short term turned more favorable as last month’s turmoil in the financial markets appears to have abated,” The Conference Board director of economic indicators Lynn Franco said in a statement. “On balance, consumers do not foresee the economy gaining any significant momentum in the near term, nor do they see it worsening.”

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions eased in March. Those who said business conditions are “good” decreased from 26.5 percent to 24.9 percent, but those who said business conditions are “bad” also edged downward, from 19.0 percent to 18.8 percent.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was mixed. Those who said jobs are “plentiful” increased from 22.8 percent to 25.4 percent, and those who said jobs are “hard to get” also rose — to 26.6 percent from 23.6 percent.

Consumers were more optimistic about the short-term outlook than in February. The percentage of respondents who expect business conditions to improve during the next six months increased moderately, from 14.5 percent to 15.0 percent, and those who expect business conditions to worsen decreased from 11.6 percent to 9.2 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more favorable. Those who anticipate more jobs in the months ahead increased slightly, from 12.2 percent to 12.9 percent, and those who anticipate fewer jobs decreased from 17.7 percent to 16.3 percent.

The proportion of consumers who expect their income to increase declined moderately, from 17.7 percent to 17.2 percent, and the proportion who expect a reduction in income edged up from 11.6 percent to 11.8 percent.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was March 17.