Conference Board Jan. index falls more than expected

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The consumer confidence index decreased to 120.2 in December from a downwardly revised 126.6 last month, originally reported as 128.1, The Conference Board reported Thursday.

IFR Markets predicted a 124.0 reading for the index.

The present situation index slid to 169.6 from a downwardly revised 169.9, first reported as 171.6, while the expectations index fell to 87.3 from a downwardly revised 97.7, first reported as 99.1.

“The Present Situation Index was virtually unchanged, suggesting economic conditions remain favorable,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for The Conference Board. “Expectations, however, declined sharply as financial market volatility and the government shutdown appear to have impacted consumers. Shock events such as government shutdowns (i.e. 2013) tend to have sharp, but temporary, impacts on consumer confidence. Thus, it appears that this month’s decline is more the result of a temporary shock than a precursor to a significant slowdown in the coming months.”

Business conditions were called “good” by 37.4% of respondents in January, off from 37.5% of respondents in December. Those saying conditions are “bad” dipped to 11.1% from 11.6%.

The percentage of consumers expecting a pickup in business conditions in the next half year slid to 16.0% from 18.1%, while 14.8% said they expect conditions to worsen, up from 10.6% in the prior month.

On the jobs front, those who believe jobs are “plentiful” rose to 46.6% from 45.5% in last month, while the number saying jobs are “hard to get” also grew, to 12.9% from 12.2%. The respondents who see fewer jobs becoming available in a half year, rose to 16.5% from 14.6%. Those expecting more jobs to become available dropped to 14.7% from 16.6%, The Conference Board reported.

The consumer confidence survey is based on a probability design random sample by the Nielsen Company.

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