Consumer confidence declined for the fourth time in five months on dimmer assessments of present conditions, suggesting that weak first-quarter growth and slower job gains in February are weighing on attitudes and potentially spending.
The Conference Board’s index fell to 124.1 from 131.4, the New York-based group said in a report March 26. That missed all economist estimates in a Bloomberg survey calling for a rise to 132.5. The gauge of views on the present situation fell to the lowest level in almost a year, while the expectations index also weakened.
The drop follows a report showing U.S. employers added just 20,000 jobs in February, the smallest gain in almost a year, and analysts are projecting the weakest economic growth this quarter since 2016.
Also, gasoline prices have jumped in recent weeks, leaving Americans with less power to spend on other goods and services. At the same time, consumer attitudes are likely to be supported by the best wage gains in a decade, a rebound in the stock market this year and the Federal Reserve’s pledge to be patient on raising interest rates.
The survey results contrast with the University of Michigan’s preliminary March sentiment, which advanced more than expected to the highest measure this year led by increases in outlooks for incomes and the economy.