The trend is still rising though March shows a slight dip in consumer confidence to 70.2 vs February's 71.6 (revised). In a closely watched detail of the report, more consumers this month, 41.0 percent vs 38.6 percent last month, say jobs are currently hard to get. Despite the disappointment, the trend for this question is still on the downswing with prior readings averaging in the mid-to-low 40 percent area. In a positive detail for March, more say jobs are plentiful though the 9.4 percentage reading, up 2.4 percentage points, is less than impressive. Still, this gain helped lift the present situation component by 4.6 points to 51.0 which is the highlight of the March report.
The expectations component, which is more heavily weighted than the present situation component, fell back 5.4 points to 83.0. Here details show less optimism for the employment outlook and a little less optimism on income prospects where however optimists, at 15.8 percent, still outnumber pessimists at 14.6 percent.
This last reading on income prospects is a key detail in this report, offering an indication on future consumer spending. And the resilience defies what is a big jump in 12-month inflation expectations, to 6.3 percent for an eight tenth gain tied directly to increases underway at the gas pump.
Today's report is mixed to soft with the inflation reading not likely to encourage newly revived hopes for QE3. Next data on the consumer will be the consumer comfort index on Thursday followed on Friday by the consumer sentiment report. The Dow is moving lower in reaction to today's report.
Market Consensus before announcement
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index jumped 9.3 points in February to 70.8-the highest reading since a 72.0 level in February 2011 and notably above the recession low of 25.3 in February 2009. The view of the jobs market made the difference. Those describing jobs as hard to get dropped to 38.7 percent versus January's 43.3 percent. February was the first reading below 40 percent since November 2008. The strength in job activity carried over to new optimism for income prospects with optimists, at 15.4 percent, once again ahead of pessimists which total a modest 12.7 percent.