The Conference Board reports after declining in January, the Consumer Confidence Index improved 9.3 points to 70.8 in February.
Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, says the index is now close to levels last seen a year ago (Feb. 2011, 72.0.). "Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions than they were in January. And, despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects, and their financial situation," she says.
The proportion of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.7% from 16.7%, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen decreased to 11.8% from 14.6%. Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat, as those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 18.7% from 16.4%, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 16.9% from 19.1%.
Juli says: The index may retreat in March if gasoline prices continue to rise -- taking a bite out of consumers' disposable income. The U.S. stock market inched higher on news of the increase in the index, but overall, investors are cautious about the economy due to rising fuel costs.