After reporting a substantial improvement in U.S. consumer confidence for the month of February, the Conference Board released a report on Tuesday that unexpectedly showed a modest pullback in confidence in the month of March.
The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 70.2 in March from an upwardly revised 71.6 in February. Economists had expected the index to edge up to 70.9 from the 70.8 originally reported for the previous month.
The unexpected pullback by the consumer confidence index came after it reached its highest level since coming in at 72.0 in February of 2011 in the previous month.
Lynn Franco, Director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said, "The moderate decline was due solely to a less favorable short-term outlook, while consumers' assessment of current conditions, on the other hand, continued to improve."
The report showed that the president situation index climbed to 51.0 in March from 46.4 in February, reaching its highest level since coming in at 61.1 in September of 2008.
The increase by the president situation index came as consumers saying business conditions are "good" rose 14.3 percent from 13.7 percent, although those saying conditions are "bad" also increased to 32.7 percent from 31.7 percent.
Consumers' assessment of the job market was mixed, the Conference Board said, with those saying jobs are "plentiful" climbing to 9.4 percent from 7.0 percent, while those saying jobs are "hard to get" rose to 41.0 percent from 38.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the report also showed that the expectations index fell to 83.0 in March from 88.4 in February, pulling back off a one-year high.
While consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose to 19.2 percent from 18.9 percent, those expecting business conditions to worsen also rose to 13.5 percent from 11.8 percent.
The Conference Board noted that the outlook for the labor market was moderately less upbeat, with those expecting more jobs in the months ahead falling to 17.3 percent from 18.8 percent and those expecting fewer jobs rising to 18.3 percent from 16.4 percent.
At the same time, the proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes edged up to 15.8 percent from 15.5 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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