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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Confidence Improves
by Tom Moeller  July 26, 2011

The Conference Board reported that its July Index of Consumer Confidence rose 3.3% to 59.5. The gain recovered roughly half of the June decline which was deeper than reported initially. The latest figure beat Consensus expectations for a reading of 56.0. During the last ten years there has been 45% correlation between the level of confidence and the three-month change in real personal consumption expenditures.

The expectations component of confidence rose 5.3% from June and recovered most of that month's decline. Expectations for improved business conditions and employment in six months made up the June declines but still were near the lowest levels since early last year. Income expectations also recovered. The turn in oil prices and the weak economy probably caused consumers to expect the inflation rate in twelve months to fall to 5.7%, the lowest since February. However, interest rates in twelve months were expected to be higher by 53.0% of respondents while just 12.6% expected rates to fall. A somewhat improved 29.5% of respondents expected stock prices to rise and a lessened 37.0% expected decline. A higher 4.9% planned to buy a home within six months.

The present situations component of the consumer confidence index fell 2.5% to 35.7 for the third consecutive monthly decline. Jobs were seen as hard to get by a higher 44.1% of respondents but remained down from the November high of 48.8%. Business conditions were seen as good by a reduced 13.4% of respondents, double the February 2010 low, while 39.0% saw them as bad.

The Conference Board data can be found in Haver's CBDB database. The expectation figure is the AS1REPNA database.

Conference Board (SA, 1985=100) Jul Jun May Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Consumer Confidence Index 59.5 57.6 61.7 16.7 54.5 45.2 57.9
 Present Situation 35.7 36.6 39.3 35.2 25.7 24.0 69.9
 Expectations 75.4 71.6 76.7 11.7 73.7 59.3 50.0
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