U.S. CONSUMER CONFIDENCE HITS ONE-YEAR HIGH, SURVEY SHOWS
US consumer confidence raced in March to its highest level since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting views that economic growth will accelerate in the coming months, driven by fiscal stimulus and an improved public health situation, Lucia Mutikani reported for Reuters.
The survey from the Conference Board on Tuesday also showed consumers were fairly upbeat about the labor market, with a measure of household employment rebounding after declining in February. Restrictions on non-essential businesses are being rolled back as more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19.
That, along with the White House’s massive $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, has led economists to predict the economy will this year experience its best performance in nearly four decades. The survey showed more consumers intended to buy homes, cars, and household appliances over the next six months.
“Consumers finally are fully on board with the pending expansion,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, Virginia.
“What remains to be seen is how quickly services industries such as travel and leisure will open up, allowing venues for consumers to release their pent-up demand.”
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index jumped 19.3 points to a reading of 109.7 this month, the highest level since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. The increase was the largest since April 2003.
Confidence remains well below its lofty reading of 132.6 in February 2020. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index would rise to 96.9.
The survey’s present situation measure, based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, soared to a reading of 110.0 from 89.6 last month.
The expectations index, based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions increased to 109.6 from a reading of 90.9 in February.
WEEKLY FEATURE : BONNER DYTOC SHOWS THE WAY IN STOCK PLAY