Consumer confidence continues its roller-coaster ride, according to a Conference Board report issued today.
The Board's Consumer Confidence Index dropped 12.2% in March after posting a 19% gain in February and a 12% loss in January. In absolute terms, the index's March number clocked in at 59.7, 8.3 points less than February and well below the index's 1985 100-point benchmark.
"This month's retreat was driven primarily by a sharp decline in expectations, although consumers were also more pessimistic in their assessment of current conditions," said Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco in a statement today. "The loss of confidence, particularly expectations, mirrors the losses experienced this past December and January. The recent sequester has created uncertainty regarding the economic outlook and as a result, consumers are less confident."
Drawn from a random sample, consumers' opinions of current conditions and the near future remain pessimistic. Consumers who believe business conditions to be "good" fell 1.6 percentage points to 16%, while those describing business as "bad" increased 1.1 percentage points to 29.3%. An increasing percentage of consumers also believe that business conditions will worsen over the next six months.
Current labor market conditions provide a glimmer of hope with consumers claiming jobs are "hard to get" down 0.7 percentage points to 36.2%, but future outlooks remain negative.
Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.