Consumer confidence drops in August

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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined in August after an improvement in July.

The index now stands at 60.6, down from 65.4 in July. The Expectations Index decreased to 70.5 from 78.4. The Present Situation Index, however, was virtually unchanged at 45.8, compared with 45.9 a month ago.

“The Consumer Confidence Index is now at its lowest level since late last year (November 2011, 55.2),” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.

“A more pessimistic outlook was the primary reason for this month’s decline in confidence. Consumers were more apprehensive about business and employment prospects, but more optimistic about their financial prospects despite rising inflation expectations. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was virtually unchanged, suggesting no significant pickup or deterioration in the pace of growth.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was little changed in August. Those who said business conditions are “good” improved to 15.2 percent from 13.7 percent, and those who said business conditions are “bad” was unchanged at 34.4 percent.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market varied. Those who said jobs are “plentiful” declined to 7 percent from 7.8 percent, and those who said jobs are “hard to get” edged down to 40.7 percent from 41 percent.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook deteriorated in August. The percentage of consumers who expected business conditions to improve during the next six months declined to 16.5 percent from 19 percent, and those who anticipate that business conditions will worsen increased to 17.7 percent from 15.1 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less favorable. Those who expected more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 15.4 percent from 17.6 percent, and those who anticipated fewer jobs rose to 23.4 percent from 20.6 percent. The proportion of consumers who expected an increase in their incomes, however, improved to 15.7 percent from 14.2 percent.

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