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Consumer Confidence Rebounds in February

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased in February, following a decline in January. The Index now stands at 131.4 (1985 = 100), up from 121.7 in January. The Present Situation Index — based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions — improved, from 170.2 to 173.5. The Expectations Index — based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions — increased from 89.4 last month to 103.4 this month.

“Consumer confidence rebounded in February, following three months of consecutive declines,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “The Present Situation Index improved, as consumers continue to view both businesses and labor market conditions favorably. Expectations, which had been negatively impacted in recent months by financial market volatility and the government shutdown, recovered in February. Looking ahead, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding. However, according to The Conference Board’s economic forecasts, the pace of expansion is expected to moderate in 2019.”

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved moderately in February. Those stating business conditions are “good” increased from 36.4 percent to 41.2 percent, while those saying business conditions are “bad” was unchanged at 10.8 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was mixed. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” decreased slightly from 46.7 to 46.1 percent, while those claiming jobs are “heard to get” also decreased, from 12.6 percent to 11.8 percent.

Optimism about the short-term future rebounded in February. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will improve over the next six months increased from 16.3 percent to 19.7 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen decreased from 13.8 percent to 8.9 percent.

The outlook for the labor market was also more favorable. The proportion of consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 15.3 percent to 18.5 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined from 16.2 percent to 12.2 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement rose from 17.7 percent to 20.0 percent, but the proportion expecting a decrease also increased, from 6.8 percent to 8.5 percent.

The monthly consumer Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading digital provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was Feb. 15.

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