Tuesday, April 26, 2011

USA Consumer Confidence Up in April (Charts) "Consumers’ short-term outlook improved slightly"


The Conference Board: Monthly Consumer Confidence Index

Official Statement by The Conference Board The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had decreased in March, improved in April. The Index now stands at 65.4 (1985=100), up from 63.8 in March. The Present Situation Index increased to 39.6 from 37.5. The Expectations Index rose to 82.6 from 81.3. Says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center: “Consumer confidence, which had declined sharply in March, posted a modest gain in April. Consumers’ short-term outlook improved slightly, suggesting that the uncertainty expressed last month is easing. Inflation expectations, which had spiked, retreated somewhat in April. Although confidence remains weak, consumers’ assessment of current conditions gained ground for the seventh straight month, a sign that the economic recovery continues.”

Trend The current trend has reversed to upwards and the intermediate and long term trends area also upwards.

Cycle History The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) reached a Post-Great Recession peak of 72.0 in February 2011. The Great Recession cyclical low was 25.3 in February 2009. The Pre-Great Recession peak was 111.9 in July 2007.

Monthly Consumer Confidence Index (Chart) Below is a chart of The Conference Board CCI from the July 2007 cyclical high of 111.9 through the latest month reported. As can be seen, the Consumer Confidence Index bottomed at a Great Recession cyclical low in February 2009 and the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009.

Consumer Confidence Index 12-Month Moving Average (Chart) Below is a chart of the latest 43 months of The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index 12-Month Moving Average from the Pre-Great Recession peak in August 2007 through the latest month reported. The previous chart above, the monthly Index of Consumer Sentiment, is rather like following the bouncing ball when charting human sentiment, confidence, mood, and outlook regarding the USA economy and their outlook for their financial prospects. Therefore, the 12-month moving average chart smooths out some of these short-term ups and downs, greed and fear, optimism and pessimism. The Pre-Great Recession peak was in August 2007 at 107.8 while the Great Recession low was in September 2009 at 42.7. The Post-Great Recession peak has been the April 2011 (preliminary) at 59.0. The 12-month moving average has been ascending for 7 consecutive months, after a 2 month dip.

Commentary The April 2011 Consumer Confidence Index of 65.4 (preliminary) is an improvement from the steep decline in March, but is below the 3-year high of February 2011. Compared to the Pre-Great Recession peak of 111.9 in July 2007, consumer confidence continues at low levels regardless of the monthly ups and downs. The Consumer Confidence Index continues well above the recent lows of 48.6 in September 2010 and 46.4 in February 2010. The spike in oil prices is the primary cause of the recent decrease plus the Japanese earthquake, Middle East unrest, and USA fiscal problems (local, state, federal) have contributed to lowered consumer confidence.

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*Data courtesy of The Conference Board*

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