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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Confidence Rebounds
by Tom Moeller February 28, 2012

Consumers have been heartened by a firmer job market and low inflation. The Conference Board's Index of Consumer Confidence rebounded during February to 70.8 (seasonally adjusted, 1985=100) and recovered to the highest level in a year. The latest increase easily beat Consensus estimates for a lesser rise to 63.0. During the last ten years there was been a 48% correlation between the level of confidence and the three-month change in real PCE.

Improved consumer expectations led the gain in February confidence. The eleven point rise was to its highest level in a year. Expectations for improved employment led that m/m rise to its highest level since last March. Improved expectations for business conditions followed with an increase to its highest since April.

The present conditions component followed with a six point m/m rise. The reading of "jobs hard to get" fell sharply to its least since late-2008 and the indication that business condition are bad also fell to the lowest since the recession.

Expectations for inflation in the next twelve months held m/m at a low 5.5%, though that was up from a low of 4.9% in July 2010. The percentage of people looking for stock prices to rise increased to 32.0% this month, the most optimistic since May, while the percent who are bearish fell in January to 32.4%, the least negative since May.

Headline figures on consumer confidence are carried in Haver's USECON database. The Conference Board's detailed data are found in Haver's CBDB database, and the consensus expectation figure is from Actions Economics, as tabulated in the AS1REPNA database.

Conference Board (SA, 1985=100) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Consumer Confidence Index 70.8 61.5 64.8 -1.7 58.1 54.5 45.2
Present Situation 45.0 38.8 46.5 33.1 36.2 25.7 24.0
Expectations 88.0 76.7 77.0 -9.7 72.7 73.7 59.3
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