The monthly Consumer Confidence Index, which can figure into forecasts of consumer spending, overshot expectations (SPENCER PLATT)
Washington (AFP) – American consumers regained some cheer in February, putting the Wall Street rout and extended government shutdown of recent months behind them, according to survey results published Tuesday.
The news helped reverse much of the decline in the last three months, according to the Conference Board, which produces the figures.
The monthly Consumer Confidence Index, which can figure into forecasts of consumer spending, overshot expectations as views about the present and near-term hopes for jobs and business both recovered somewhat.
The index rose nearly 10 points to 131.4 for the month, which was well above the 125 economists had predicted and the highest level since October.
“Consumer confidence rebounded in February, following three months of consecutive declines,” Lynn Franco, the board’s senior director for economic indicators, said in a statement.
“Looking ahead, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding.”
With the record-length government shutdown behind them and Wall Street posting steady gains in recent weeks, consumers now take a rosier view of current business conditions: the share of those saying things are “good” jumped 4.8 points to 41.2 percent.
For the next six months, those expecting things to get better rose 3.4 points to 19.7 percent and the share of people who expect jobs to be less plentiful shrank four points to 12.2 percent.
“We judge the swings in consumer expectations in recent months to be associated with stock market volatility,” RDQ Economics, which was not involved in producing the report, said in a client note, adding that views of current conditions “barely fell” during the shutdown and market rout.
The recovery in consumer confidence should help reassure the Federal Reserve that these recent economic jolts “have not dampened consumer attitudes.”
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