A four-month high in U.S. consumer confidence reflects Americans’ sunnier views on both their current situation and outlook, a positive sign for the economy, data from the New York-based Conference Board showed Tuesday.
Highlights of July Consumer Confidence
• Confidence index rose to 121.1 (estimated 116.5) from a revised 117.3 in June.
• Present conditions measure rose to 147.8, a 16-year high, from 143.9.
• Gauge of consumer expectations for the next six months gained to 103.3 from 99.6.
With unemployment near a 16-year low and U.S. stocks reaching record highs, consumers remain upbeat, which should continue to support the household spending that accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Even so, the post-election surge in sentiment has yet to translate into a similar economic boost. Faster wage gains and improved prospects for fiscal stimulus could propel confidence further in coming months. The Conference Board’s data contrast with surveys from the University of Michigan and Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showing sentiment ebbing in recent weeks.
“Overall, consumers foresee the current economic expansion continuing well into the second half of this year,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.
• Share of respondents citing “good” business conditions rose to the highest level since early 2001; the proportion expecting them to improve over the next six months also increased.
• Labor differential, measuring share of those saying jobs are plentiful minus the share saying they’re hard to get, widened to 16.1 percentage points, the most since August 2001.
• Consumers were modestly less upbeat about income prospects than in previous month.
• Buying plans up for autos and homes, down for major appliances.
• Cutoff date for preliminary survey results was July 14.