Consumer confidence dips nearly two points

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index dipped nearly two points in January. The Index now stands at 79 (1985=100), down from 80.7 in December. The Expectations Index declined to 81.4 from 88.1. The Present Situation Index improved to 75.4 from 69.6.

“Overall readings continue to reflect the country’s lackluster economic activity,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Now, with the threat of war looming, consumers have grown increasingly cautious about the short-term outlook.”

Consumers’ expectations for the next six months are less optimistic than at year-end. Those anticipating business conditions to sour over the next six months rose to 14% from 11%, the Conference Board reports. Those anticipating an improvement in the economy declined to 17.7% from 21.1%.

The employment outlook was also less favorable. Consumers expecting fewer jobs in the coming months edged up to 20.9% from 20.2%. Those anticipating more jobs declined to 14.3% from 15.4%. Those anticipating an increase in their incomes decreased to 18.4% from 19.6% in December.

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions has improved, but still remains soft. Those rating current business conditions as “good” increased to 15% from 14.5%. However, those holding the opposite view edged up to 26.5% from 25.9%. Consumers reporting jobs are hard to get declined to 28.8% from 29.7%. Those claiming jobs are plentiful increased to 14.5% from 12.3%.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by NFO WorldGroup, a member of The Interpublic Group of Companies.