Consumer confidence slips in February

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The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index slipped in February, declining more than economists had expected.

The index stands at 96.4, down from an upwardly revised 103.8 in January — the highest it had been since August of 2007.

“After a large gain in January, consumer confidence retreated in February, but still remains at pre-recession levels (September 2007 index at 99.5),” The Conference Board director of economic indicators Lynn Franco said in a statement today.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remained positive, but short-term expectations declined. While the number of consumers expecting conditions to deteriorate was virtually unchanged, fewer consumers expect conditions to improve, prompting a less upbeat outlook. Despite this month’s decline, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand at the current pace in the months ahead.”

The Conference Board said consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was moderately less favorable in February than in January. Those who said business conditions are “good” decreased from 28.2 percent to 26.0 percent, but those who said business conditions are “bad” decreased from 17.3 percent to 17.0 percent.

Consumers also were somewhat less positive in their assessment of the job market. The proportion that said jobs are “plentiful” decreased slightly, from 20.7 percent to 20.5 percent; those who said jobs are “hard to get” increased from 24.6 percent to 26.2 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less optimistic. Those who anticipated more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 17.3 percent to 13.4 percent. However, those who anticipated fewer jobs declined from 14.8 percent to 14.3 percent.

The proportion of consumers who expected their income to rise declined from 19.5 percent to 15.1 percent. Those who expect a decrease rose from 10.8 percent to 12.0 percent.

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