Consumer Confidence in Different Directions in Recent Surveys

       

       

NEW YORK-Different readings of consumers confidence have emerged from two key surveys of U.S. shoppers.

The more negative view came from The Conference Board’s monthly consumer confidence index, which in May dropped 3.8 points from its April reading to 64.9. On the positive side was the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment, which this month posted at 79.3, up 2.9 points over the April number.

The Conference Board said respondents to its survey showed more pessimism over both the current state of the economy and their expectations for business conditions down the road. The present situations index, one of the two component indexes to the overall figure, fell 5.3 points to 45.9, while the expectations index was down 2.8 points to 77.6.

Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center, said, “Consumers were less positive about current business and labor-market conditions, and they were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook. However, consumers were more upbeat about their income prospects, which should help sustain spending.”

Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan said its index rose for the ninth month in a row in May. “More favorable job and wage prospects were the main factors behind the improved outlook,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the index. “Record numbers of consumers mentioned that they heard of favorable employment trends despite the jobs slowdown recently reported by the Labor Department.”

Both organizations predicted modest economic growth in the coming months. Franco said the softening of consumer expectations points to moderate growth in the months ahead. Curtin said confidence will be largely unchanged until after the November election.