Consumer Confidence Declines

Consumer confidence declined in March to reach its lowest
point in three months, the Conference Board announced March 29.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index now stands at
63.4, down from 72.0 in February.

“The sharp decline in confidence was prompted by a sharp
decline in expectations,” Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board
Consumer Research Center, said in a statement. “Consumers’ inflation
expectations rose significantly in March and their income expectations soured,
a combination that will likely impact spending decisions. On the other hand,
consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved, indicating that while the
short-term future may be uncertain, the economy continues to expand.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in
March. Those claiming business conditions are “good” jumped to 15.1 percent
from 12.4 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased
to 37.0 percent from 39.3 percent. 

Consumers’ short-term outlook, however, seemed less
favorable than in February. The proportion of consumers expecting business
conditions to improve over the next six months declined to 20.6 percent from
25.2 percent, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen
increased to 16.2 percent from 10.3 percent. Consumers were also more downbeat
about the labor market. 

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