Economic readings are generally coming in weaker than expected, and you have to wonder how well the unemployment and payrolls report can come in this Friday. We have just seen a weaker-than-expected Chicago Purchasing Managers Index that went into recessionary territory. And now, a pleasant surprise. The broader-based consumer confidence report from the Conference Board has a big unexpected surprise to the upside.
The Conference Board said that consumer confidence rose to 68.1 in April from 61.9 in March. Dow Jones and Bloomberg were each looking for a reading of only 62.0. The range from the Bloomberg pool of economists was 57 to 66, and that means that the consumer confidence was a surprise above every single official economist target out there.
Both components of today and tomorrow were up as well. The Present Situation Index increased to 60.4 from 59.2 in March, and the Expectations Index improved to 73.3 in April from 63.7 in March. More data can be seen here:
- Those saying business conditions are “good” increased to 17.2% from 16.4%.
- Those stating business conditions are “bad” decreased to 28.1% from 29.1%.
- Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” edged up to 9.8% from 9.5%.
- Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 37.1% from 35.4%.
What is interesting is that the revision to the University of Michigan consumer sentiment was released last Friday and it also turned out to be much better than expected and much better than the preliminary report suggested mid-month.
According to the Conference Board:
Consumer Confidence improved in April, as consumers’ expectations about the short-term economic outlook and their income prospects improved. However, consumers’ confidence has been challenged several times over the past few months by such events as the fiscal cliff, the payroll tax hike and the sequester. Thus, while expectations appear to have bounced back, it is too soon to tell if confidence is actually on the mend.