Consumer Confidence Retreats From 6-Year High

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After reaching its highest level in more than six years, consumer confidence edged slightly lower this month. Americans are still optimistic about the future, but the Present Situation Index made a notable decline.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell 1.6 percentage points to 82.3 in April, down from the upwardly revised 83.9 in March. It remained as the highest reading since January 2008. However, economists expected the index to come in around 83. The lowest point for the index last year was 58, in January, while the highest point was reached in June, at 82.1. During the Great Recession, the index averaged a dismal 54.

“Consumer confidence declined slightly in April, as consumers assessed current business and labor market conditions less favorably than in March,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board, in a press release. “However, their expectations regarding the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market held steady. Thus, while sentiment regarding current conditions may have slipped a bit, consumers do not foresee the economy, or the labor market, losing the momentum that has been building up over the past several months.”

In April, the Present Situation Index fell to 78.3 from 82.5, while the Expectations Index was virtually unchanged, at 84.9. The assessment of people claiming business conditions are “good” declined to 21.8 percent from 22.6 percent. The number of people saying business conditions are “bad” increased to 24.4 percent from 23.5 percent.

The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months was unchanged, at 17.4 percent, while those anticipating business conditions to worsen rose to 10.3 percent from 10.1 percent. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” declined to 12.9 percent from 13.8 percent, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” increased to 32.5 percent from 31.4 percent. On the positive, the outlook for the labor market improved. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 15 percent from 14.1 percent.

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