United States: Consumer confidence slips slightly in December
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index inched down to 126.5 in December from an upwardly revised 126.8 in November (previously reported: 125.5). The reading underwhelmed market expectations of a rise to 128.2, but nonetheless remained well above the 100-threshold that separates optimism from pessimism.
The dip in consumer confidence was chiefly due to households’ assessment of the short-term outlook, which swung back to pessimistic territory in December after temporarily rising above the 100-threshold in November. This was the result of consumers’ less upbeat view on their job and financial prospects, as more participants expect fewer jobs to be available in the months ahead. On a brighter note, households were more cheerful about present economic conditions in December. However, their take on current labor market conditions was mixed: more consumers stated jobs are “plentiful”, however those claiming jobs are “hard to get” also rose. The labor differential—the difference between the percentage of respondents who state that jobs are plentiful and those who say that jobs are hard to get—rose from 31.6 in November to 33.9 in December.
Commenting on this month’s reading, Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, noted:
“While the economy hasn’t shown signs of further weakening, there is little to suggest that growth, and in particular consumer spending, will gain momentum in early 2020.”