Economic Indicators Turn Positive

In another signal of an upward trending economy, consumer confidence was sharply higher in February, according to data from The Conference Board.

The Consumer Confidence Index hit 114.8 last month, the highest reading since July 2001. The index was several points higher than economists had been predicting. “Consumers rates current business and labor market conditions more favorably this month than in January,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. “Expectations improved regarding the short-term outlook for business, and to a lesser degree jobs and income prospects. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding in the months ahead.”

In a separate survey, U.S. manufacturing showed enthusiasm. The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index rose to 57.5% from 56% in January; economists had been predicting an index closer to 56.5%. Any reading above 50% indicates improving conditions. The February reading is the highest since August 2014.

Of 18 manufacturing industries tracked by the index, 17 reported growth, with textile mills and apparel, leather and allied products leading the way. Furniture and related products was the only sector that didn’t grow. The new orders index rose 4.7 points to 65.1% and the production index added 1.5 points to 62.9%, though the employment index slipped 1.9 points to 54.2%.