Consumer Confidence Index drops for the fourth consecutive month

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in October, posted another loss in November. The Index now stands at 90.5 (1985=100), down from 92.9 in October. The Expectations Index declined to 87.4 from 92.2. The Present Situation Index edged up to 95.2 from 94.0.

“With consumers’ assessment of current conditions holding steadfast and intentions to spend for the holiday season up from a year ago, the outlook for retailers is mildly encouraging,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “But looking beyond the upcoming holidays, the continuing erosion in expectations suggests consumers do not feel the economy is likely to gain major momentum in early 2005.”

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was mixed. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 23% from 21.6%, while those claiming conditions are “bad” edged down to 20.5% from 21.4%. The employment picture was not as positive as last month. Consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 16.8% from 17.4%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” rose to 28.1% from 27.9%.

Consumers’ short-term outlook continues to lose ground. Those anticipating conditions to worsen in the next six months increased to 11.9% from 10.5%. Consumers expecting business conditions to improve decreased to 19.3% from 20.7%.

The employment outlook was also more cautious. Consumers expecting fewer jobs to become available in the next six months rose to 19.7% from 18.3%. Those anticipating more jobs to become available were relatively unchanged at 16.8%. Consumers expecting their incomes to improve in the months ahead edged down to 18.5% from 19% last month.

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 NFO. TNS NFO, one of the TNS group of companies. The cutoff date for November’s preliminary results was Nov. 16.

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