Mixed signals from Consumer Confidence data
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in February, pulled back slightly in March. The Index now stands at 70.2 (1985=100), down from 71.6 in February. The Present Situation Index, however, increased to 51.0 from 46.4. The Expectations Index declined to 83.0 from 88.4 in February.
“The moderate decline was due solely to a less favorable short-term outlook, while consumers’ assessment of current conditions, on the other hand, continued to improve,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “The Present Situation Index now stands at its highest level in three and a half years (61.1, September 2008), suggesting that despite this month's dip in confidence, consumers feel the economy is not losing momentum."
Consumers' appraisal of current conditions improved in March. Those claiming business conditions are "good" increased to 14.3% from 13.7%. However, those claiming business conditions are “bad” also increased, to 32.7% from 31.7%. Consumers' assessment of the job market was mixed. Those saying jobs are "plentiful" increased to 9.4% from 7.0%, while those stating jobs are "hard to get" also rose, to 41.0% from 38.6%.
The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, 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 15.