Consumer Confidence Up In September

U.S. consumer confidence moved sharply higher in September, with Americans unshaken by tumbling stock prices, according to new data. This week, the Conference Board, a private research group, announced that its September consumer confidence index had risen to 103, the highest figure since January. Economists surveyed by several media outlets had been predicting a much lower index of around 97 for the month. In August, the revised confidence index was 101.3.

“Consumer confidence increased moderately in September, following August’s sharp rebound,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ more positive assessment of current conditions fueled this month’s increase, and drove the Present Situation Index to an 8-year high.”

The Conference Board survey also found that 25.1% of consumers now think jobs are “plentiful,” compared with 22.1% who thought the same in August. However, 24.3% described them as “hard to get,” up from 21.7% who said that in August. The Labor Department’s jobs report is due out tomorrow, with analysts forecasting a slight acceleration in hiring, predicting 200,000 September jobs were added to the economy, as opposed to the 173,000 added in August.

Additionally, Conference Board data showed the percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 16.6% to 17.9%, but those expecting business conditions to worsen also rose by more than one point to 10.3%. “Consumers’ expectations for the short-term outlook remained relatively flat, although there was a modest improvement in income expectations,” Franco said.