Is Consumer Confidence Even Relevant?

On a week that includes a Federal Reserve FOMC meeting, it is fair to ask if reports such as the Conference Board’s report on consumer confidence are relevant. At issue are not the data themselves, because we believe that the Conference Board is the more accurate and representative report on “confidence and sentiment.” The wild card is that the Reuters/University of Michigan report on consumer sentiment already has preceded the report.

Today’s report is for July, and consumer confidence pulled back slightly to 80.2 from having risen to 82.1 in June. Dow Jones had the consensus at 82.1, and Bloomberg had the consensus estimate at 81.0.

The Present Situation Index rose to 73.6 from 68.7 in the prior month, while the Expectations Index fell to 84.7 in July from 91.1 reported in June. Today’s report was summarized as being precipitated by a weakening in consumer economic and job expectations, but with confidence remaining well above the consumer confidence levels during the same time back in 2012.

Below are some individual components:

  • Those stating business conditions are “good” rose to 20.9% from 19.4%.
  • Those stating business conditions are “bad” fell to 24.5% from 24.9%.
  • Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” rose to 12.2% from 11.3%.
  • Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” fell to 35.5% from 37.1%.
  • Those consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 19.1% from 21.4%.
  • Those expecting business conditions to worsen remained virtually unchanged at 11.2%.

Stocks are still higher on the day, with the S&P 500 up more than four points at 1,689 and the DJIA up 21 points at 15,543. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note is 2.58%. The BEA is releasing is preliminary report on second-quarter GDP on Wednesday morning.

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