Consumer confidence drops in February

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The Consumer Confidence Index fell moderately this month after increasing in January and it now stands at 78.1, The Conference Board reported today.

“Consumer confidence declined moderately in February, on concern over the short-term outlook for business conditions, jobs and earnings,” Conference Board director of economic indicators Lynn Franco said in a statement.

“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. This suggests that consumers believe the economy has improved, but they do not foresee it gaining considerable momentum in the months ahead.”

The index stood at 79.4 in January.

The Conference Board said consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved for the fourth consecutive month. Those who said business conditions are “good” increased to 21.5 percent from 20.8 percent, and those who said conditions are “bad” declined to 22.6 percent from 23.4 percent.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market also improved. Those who said jobs are “plentiful” increased to 13.9 percent from 12.5 percent, and those who said jobs are “hard to get” decreased slightly, to 32.5 percent, from 32.7 percent.

Consumers’ expectations, which had been improving during the past two months, retreated in February. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve during the next six months decreased to 16.3 percent from 17 percent, and those who anticipate that conditions will worsen increased to 13.3 percent from 12.2 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more pessimistic. Those who expected more jobs in the months ahead declined to 13.3 percent from 15.1 percent, and those who anticipated fewer jobs increased to 20.6 percent from 19 percent.

The proportion of consumers expecting their income to increase declined from 16.6 percent to 15.4 percent, but those who anticipate a decrease in their income also declined, from 13.9 percent to 13.1 percent.