Conference Board March consumer confidence off 18-year high

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The consumer confidence index decreased to 127.7 in March from a revised 130.0 last month, The Conference Board reported Tuesday.

The February index was originally reported as 130.8.

Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted a 131.0 reading for the index.

The present situation index fell to 159.9 from a revised 161.2, first reported as 162.4, while the expectations index declined to 106.2 from a revised 109.2, first reported as 109.7.

“Consumer confidence declined moderately in March after reaching an 18-year high in February,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined slightly, with business conditions the primary reason for the moderation. Consumers’ short-term expectations also declined, including their outlook for the stock market, but overall expectations remain quite favorable. Despite the modest retreat in confidence, index levels remain historically high and suggest further strong growth in the months ahead.”

Business conditions were called “good” by 37.9% of respondents in March, up from 36.5% of respondents in February. Those saying conditions are “bad” rose to 13.4% from 11.3%.

The percentage of consumers expecting a pickup in business conditions in the next half year slid to 23.0% from 25.0%, while 9.8% said they expect conditions to worsen, up from 9.4% in the prior month.

On the jobs front, those who believe jobs are “plentiful” increased to 39.9% from 39.1% in last month, while the number saying jobs are “hard to get” slid to 14.9% from 15.1%. The respondents who see fewer jobs becoming available in a half year, increased to 12.6% from 12.4%. Those expecting more jobs to become available fell to 19.1% from 22.4%, The Conference Board reported.

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

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