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Economy in Brief

Consumer Confidence Up Sharply
by Tom Moeller March 28, 2006

The Conference Board's Index of Consumer Confidence jumped 4.4% during March to 107.2, the highest level in nearly four years. The jump compared to Consensus expectations for stability at 102.0 and the m/m stability in the University of Michigan's March Index of Consumer Sentiment.

During the last twenty years there has been a 52% correlation between the level of consumer confidence and the y/y change in real consumer spending. The correlation rose to 66% during the last ten years.

The index of consumers' expectations recovered most of the prior month's decline with a sharp 6.8% (-4.1% y/y) gain. Expectations for business conditions improved for the first month in four and more jobs were expected for the first month in three. Expectations for stock prices surged.

Consumers' assessment of the present situation rose for the fifth straight month. The 2.3% increase (13.9% y/y) was driven by a rise in the percentage of respondents who viewed jobs as plentiful to 28.4%, the highest since 2001. Business conditions were thought to be good by 28.3% of respondents, the highest since last July.

Price inflation expected in twelve months fell to 4.8%, down slightly from the 5.2% expected in December and down sharply from the 6.8% expected last September.

The Conference Board’s survey isconducted by a mailed questionnaire to 5,000 households and about 3,500 typically respond.

Conference Board Mar Feb Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Consumer Confidence 107.2 102.7 4.1% 100.3 96.1 79.8
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