U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Improves In March

Reflecting an uptick in consumer expectations, the Conference Board released a report on Tuesday unexpectedly showing a slight improvement in U.S. consumer confidence in the month of March.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index inched up to 104.2 in March from an upwardly revised 103.4 in February.

The modest increase surprised economists, who had expected the consumer confidence index to slip to 101.0 from the 102.9 originally reported for the previous month.

“The gain reflects an improved outlook for consumers under 55 years of age and for households earning $50,000 and over,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director, Economics at The Conference Board.

The uptick by the headline index came as the expectations index rose to 73.0 in March from an upwardly revised 70.4 in February.

Meanwhile, the report showed the present situation index dipped to 151.1 in March from an upwardly revised 153.0 in the previous month.

“While consumers feel a bit more confident about what’s ahead, they are slightly less optimistic about the current landscape,” said Ozyildirim. “The share of consumers saying jobs are ‘plentiful’ fell, while the share of those saying jobs are ‘not so plentiful’ rose.”

“The latest results also reveal that their expectations of inflation over the next 12 months remains elevated—at 6.3 percent,” he added. “Overall purchasing plans for appliances continued to soften while automobile purchases saw a slight increase.”

The Conference Board noted the cutoff date for the survey was March 20th, about ten days after the bank failures in the United States.

On Friday, the University of Michigan is scheduled to release its revised reading on consumer sentiment in the month of March.

The consumer sentiment index for March is expected to be downwardly revised to 63.2 from 63.4, which was down from 67.0 in February.

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