Consumer Confidence Rises in May

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The Conference Board has released its May reading of consumer confidence, showing a gain after a downward revision in April. Consumer confidence rose to 128.0 in May from 125.6 in April. This was more or less in line with the Bloomberg consensus estimate calling for 128.6. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 16.

The Present Situation Index increased from 157.5 to 161.7, while the Expectations Index improved to 105.6 this month from 104.3 last month.

Overall, consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved for the month of May. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased from 34.8% to 38.4%, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased from 12.3% to 12.0%. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was somewhat mixed. The percentage of consumers stating jobs are “plentiful” improved from 38.2 to 42.4, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” also increased, from 15.5% to 15.8%.

Consumers were modestly more positive about the short-term outlook in May. The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions will improve over the next six months decreased from 23.6 to 23.1, while those expecting business conditions will worsen also decreased, from 9.8% to 8.3%.

Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, commented:

Consumer confidence increased in May after a modest decline in April. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions increased to a 17-year high (March 2001, 167.5), suggesting that the level of economic growth in Q2 is likely to have improved from Q1. Consumers’ short-term expectations improved modestly, suggesting that the pace of growth over the coming months is not likely to gain any significant momentum. Overall, confidence levels remain at historically strong levels and should continue to support solid consumer spending in the near-term.