"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Consumer Confidence

Consumer Confidence is one of the big movers and shakers amongst economic measures. It's current to forward-looking, so it's one of the leading indicators of consumer spending. And since consumer spending is a huge chunk of GDP, good consumer confidence figures fill analysts and traders with hope for the future.
February's figures may be a hard act to follow. The Consumer Confidence Index hit a level of 70.4, which was a three-year high. The Present Situation Index increased 2.3 points to 33.4, and the Expectations Index increased 7.8 to a level of 95.1. And the Econoday-surveyed analysts aren't expecting march to follow last month's act. Instead, they're expecting to see the Consumer Confidence Index fall to a level of 64.0.
So, how do the actual numbers look? According to The Conference Board, the Consumer Confidence Index fell to 63.4 (falling below expectations). The Present situation Index improved, rising to 36.9, and the Expectations Index fell to 81.1. The Conference Board fully credits the decline in consumer confidence to the decline in future expectations: "Consumers' inflation expectations rose significantly in march and their income expectations soured, a combination that will likely impact spending decisions," said Lynn Franco, Director of The conference Board consumer Research Center.

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