Consumer confidence slips in October

The mood of American consumers, as measured by The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, was less optimistic in October.
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The mood of American consumers, as measured by The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, was less optimistic in October.

The board said today that its index slipped to 97.6 from a reading of 102.6 in September. The previous month’s number represented a moderate gain from the August reading.

The Conference Board’s preliminary report for the month diverged from the outlook of Americans as measured earlier this month by the University of Michigan’s preliminary Consumer Sentiment Index for October. That gauge showed consumer sentiment brightening considerably.

The University of Michigan’s index rose to 92.1, the first advance in four months, from 87.2 in September. The final October report from that survey is due Friday.

“Consumers were less positive in their assessment of present-day conditions, in particular the job market, and were moderately less optimistic about the short-term outlook,” The Conference Board director of economic indicators Lynn Franco said in a statement. “Despite the decline, consumers still rate current conditions favorably, but they do not anticipate the economy strengthening much in the near term.”

The board said consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was somewhat less positive in October. Those who said business conditions are “good” decreased from 28.1 percent to 26.5 percent and those who said business conditions are “bad” increased from 16.4 percent to 18.3 percent.

Consumers also were less upbeat about the job market. Those who said jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 24.8 percent to 22.2 percent, but those who said jobs are “hard to get” edged up to 25.8 percent from 24.9 percent.

The board said consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook was more subdued in October. The percentage of people who expect business conditions to improve during the next six months was unchanged at 18.1 percent; those who expect business conditions to worsen inched up to 10.6 percent from 10.4 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was slightly less optimistic. Those who anticipate more jobs in the months ahead declined moderately, from 14.9 percent to 14.5 percent; those who anticipate fewer jobs increased from 15.9 percent to 16.9 percent.

The proportion of consumers who expect their income to increase declined from 18.7 percent to 18 percent; the proportion that expects a decline increased from 9.9 percent to 10.7 percent.

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