Consumer Confidence Index declines moderately

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which increased in September, edged down in October. The Index now stands at 105.4 (1985=100), down from 105.9 in September. The Present Situation Index decreased to 124.7 from 128.3. The Expectations Index rose to 92.6 from 91.0 last month.

“October’s dip in confidence was prompted by consumers’ mixed assessment of present-day business conditions and a less favorable view of the job market,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Consumers’ short-term expectations posted a slight improvement, but the outlook for the labor market remains mixed. Overall, this month’s readings continue to suggest a moderate pace of economic growth and more of the same for the first few months of 2007.”

Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions was less favorable in October than in September. Those claiming conditions are “bad” rose to 17.1 percent from 15.6 percent. Those claiming conditions are “good,” however, increased to 28.1 percent from 27.3 percent.

Labor market conditions were less positive than last month. Consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” declined to 25.8 percent from 26.2 percent. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 22 percent from 20.9 percent in September.

Consumers’ short-term outlook was moderately more optimistic in October than in September. Consumers expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months increased to 18.5 percent from 16.5 percent. Those anticipating business conditions to worsen decreased to 9.9 percent from 10.3 percent.

The outlook for the labor market, however, was mixed. Those expecting more jobs to become available in the coming months edged up to 15.2 percent from 14.7 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs also increased to 17.5 percent from 16.5 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase in the months ahead edged down to 19.6 percent from 20.2 percent in September.

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 TNS, a custom research company. The cutoff date for October’s preliminary results was Oct. 24.