U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Shows Continued Decrease In November

Reflecting a softening in consumers’ assessment of current conditions, the Conference Board released a report on Tuesday showing U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly declined for a fourth consecutive month in November.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 125.5 in November from an upwardly revised 126.1 in October.

Economists had expected the consumer confidence index to inch up to 126.9 from the 125.9 originally reported for the previous month.

The unexpected drop by the headline index came as the present situation index slumped to 166.9 in November from 173.5 in October.

“The decline in the Present Situation Index suggests that economic growth in the final quarter of 2019 will remain weak,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

The percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are “good” crept up to 40.2 from 39.7 percent, but those claiming business conditions are “bad” also increased to 13.8 percent from 11.0 percent.

Consumers’ assessment of the job market was less favorable, with those saying jobs are “plentiful” falling to 44.8 percent from 47.7 percent and those claiming jobs are “hard to get” rising to 12.7 percent from 11.6 percent.

“However, consumers’ short-term expectations improved modestly, and growth in early 2020 is likely to remain at around 2 percent,” said Franco. “Overall, confidence levels are still high and should support solid spending during this holiday season.”

The report said the expectations index climbed to 97.9 in November from 94.5 in October, as consumers were moderately more optimistic about the short-term outlook.

The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will improve over the next six months edged down to 17.2 percent from 18.7 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen inched up to 12.1 percent from 11.5 percent.

The Conference Board said consumers’ outlook for the labor market was mixed. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead dipped to 15.7 percent from 16.9 percent, but those anticipating fewer jobs also decreased to 13.2 percent from 18.0 percent.

Regarding short-term income prospects, consumers expecting an improvement crept up to 21.8 percent from 21.4 percent, while those expecting a decrease dipped to 6.2 percent from 6.9 percent.

Last Friday, the University of Michigan released a separate report showing a much bigger than expected upward revision to its reading on U.S. consumer sentiment in the month of November.

The report said the consumer sentiment index for November was upwardly revised to 96.8 from the preliminary reading of 95.7. The revised reading is well above the final October reading of 95.5.

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