US consumer confidence improves a touch in March
US consumer confidence unexpectedly improved a touch in March, according to data released on Tuesday.
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index ticked up to 104.2 from 103.4 in February. This was ahead of consensus expectations for a decline to 101.0.
The present situation index - based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labour market conditions - fell to 151.1 in March from 153.0 a month earlier.
Meanwhile, the expectations index, which is based on the short-term outlook for income, business, and labour market conditions, rose to 73.0 from 70.4. However, the Conference Board pointed out that since February 2022, the expectations index has been below 80 - the level which often signals a recession within the next year.
It also noted that the cut-off date for the survey was 20 March, about 10 days after the bank failures in the US.
Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economics at the Conference Board, said the gain in the consumer confidence index reflects an improved outlook for consumers under 55 years of age and for households earning $50,000 and over.
"While consumers feel a bit more confident about what’s ahead, they are slightly less optimistic about the current landscape," he said.
"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%. Overall purchasing plans for appliances continued to soften while automobile purchases saw a slight increase."