Consumer Confidence Dips for February

Consumers are less confident this month, according to the Conference Board's February Consumer Confidence Index released today. 

After reaching a revised 79.4 points in January, the index fell 1.6% to 78.1 for February. Analysts were slightly disappointed, having expected confidence to edge down to 80.1 from January's unrevised 80.7 reading. The index uses 1985 as its 100-point benchmark.

"Consumer confidence declined moderately in February, on concern over the short-term outlook for business conditions, jobs, and earnings," said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco in a statement today. "While expectations have fluctuated over recent months, current conditions have continued to trend upward and the Present Situation Index is now at its highest level in almost six years (April 2008, 81.9). This suggests that consumers believe the economy has improved, but they do not foresee it gaining considerable momentum in the months ahead."

The index is comprised of responses from a random sample of consumers. In this latest report, consumers edged closer to overall optimism on current conditions, with 21.5% claiming business conditions are "good," while those citing "bad" conditions comprised 22.6% of the sample. 

Looking ahead, however, expectations tapered off after two months of gains. 16.3% of those surveyed expect business conditions to improve over the next six months (down 0.7 percentage points), compared to 13.3% anticipating tougher times (up 1.1 percentage points). 

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