Entries in Consumer Confidence Index (4)


Consumer Confidence Slips in May

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Consumer confidence dropped to 64.9 in May, according to the latest index compiled by private research group The Conference Board.

Last April, the index was up to 68.7 with hopes that falling gasoline prices would push the measure up past 70 this month.  However, less pain at the pump didn't translate into more confidence among the 500 Americans who were surveyed for the index.

They continue to see home prices slip, employers reluctant to make big hires, savings depleted by a lackluster month on Wall Street and ongoing problems with Greece threatening to leave the Eurozone.

A healthy economy would show the Consumer Confidence Index at 90.  The last time that happened was December 2007.  Just over a year later, with the Great Recession taking full hold of the economy, it slipped down to under 30.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Consumer Confidence Surges in December

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Consumer confidence in the economy surged well beyond the expected 59 percent in December to 64.5 percent, up from a revised November number of 55.2 percent, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

Many analysts consider consumer confidence an important economic indicator because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy.  But these latest numbers don't impress economist Peter Morici of the University of Maryland, who says that other figures -- such as overall unemployment -- are more significant.

“We see consumer confidence and other similar indicators jump up and down and we tend to get a mixed bag when that goes on,” Morici said.

“What matters are the hard numbers -- the number of jobs, the number of homes sold…housing prices,” Morici said.

Though confidence remains well below the historical average, a brightening sentiment could lead to more spending in the New Year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rising Gas Prices Slam Consumer Sentiment

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Soaring gasoline prices slammed consumer sentiment into reverse this week, threatening the slow recovery in economic views that’s been under way.

With gas now at a record high for February in Energy Department data dating back to 1990, the weekly Consumer Comfort Index (CCI) dropped by an unusually steep 5 points to -46 on its scale of -100 to +100. It’s dropped that far only 36 times in more than 1,300 weeks of ongoing polling since late 1985; this shift erases an equally unusual 5-point gain in early January.

It’s likely no coincidence that the change in sentiment follows the federal government’s report Monday that gas has jumped to an average $3.13 a gallon, up steadily from $2.74 six months ago, $2.65 a year ago and $1.89 two years ago this month.

The portent is not a good one. Gas prices tend to drop in winter, when demand is down, and rise in summer, when more Americans hit the road. Gas last approached this wintertime level in February 2008 -- on its way to a record high of $4.11 the following July.

A repeat could be devastating to consumer sentiment.

Although the CCI and gas prices don’t always move in tandem, they’ve correlated significantly -- meaning that as gas prices go up, confidence tends to decline. And that relationship strengthens when fuel prices are rising: From February 2007 to July 2008, as gas soared from $2.19 to $4.11, the CCI tanked from  -1 to -41.

That relationship suggests that confidence would be in a better place now were gas prices not rising -- with this week’s CCI a warning siren for the slow, tentative recovery of late.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Consumer Confidence Jumps to Two-and-a-Half-Year High

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Consumer confidence jumped to its highest level in more than two and a half years this week, led by improved ratings of the buying climate and national economy.

The Consumer Comfort Index advanced by five points, a sharp one-week gain that’s been matched or exceeded only 24 times in more than 1,300 weeks of ongoing polling since late 1985. It follows a mid-December drop in economic pessimism, measured separately, to a six-year low.

Shifts this big do not always mean continued improvements in consumer sentiment down the road. But one particular data point offers hope: A five-point jump in the CCI in March 1993 marked the start of the index’s climb out of the 1990-91 recession and its hangover. Still, it was a long road; the CCI didn’t regain its pre-recession level until November 1994.

This advance follows last week’s report that unemployment fell to 9.4 percent in December, its lowest since July 2009. That in turn followed a dip in weekly initial unemployment claims for the last week of December to their lowest since July 2008. (Last week’s report, though, worsened.) As noted last week, the CCI correlates closely with unemployment as well as with a variety of other indicators. (One, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, rose 11 percent last year.)

This week’s jump in confidence occurred chiefly among groups that often are hit hardest by unemployment. The CCI reached its best in more than two and a half years among adults who are under age 34, singles and Democrats, and also has risen among unmarried adults, renters and low-earners. It’s matched a two-and-a-half-year high among women as well.

The CCI, produced by Langer Research Associates, is based on Americans’ ratings of the current national economy, the buying climate and their personal finances.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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