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Consumer Confidence Down in April

Expectations component steady as assessment of current conditions slips.

Consumer confidence retreated slightly in April while remaining close to its highest levels of the past 12 months.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index came in at 82.3 for the month, down slightly from the 83.9 reached in March. The March figure was revised upward from the 82.3 originally reported a month ago.

The Present Situation Index fell to 78.3 from 82.5 in April while the Expectations Index rose a tick to 84.9 from 84.8 a month ago.

Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, noted that consumers’ “expectations regarding the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market held steady. Thus, while sentiment regarding current conditions may have slipped a bit, consumers do not foresee the economy, or the labor market, losing momentum that has been building up over the past several months.”

Still, those who rated the availability of jobs “plentiful” declined to 12.9 percent from 13.8 percent a month ago, while those who consider employment “hard to get” increased to 32.5 percent from 31.4 percent. Those expecting greater availability of jobs in the months ahead rose to 15 percent from 14.1 percent and those expecting tighter job availability also grew, to 17.9 percent to 17.5 percent.

Age continued to be a principal determinant of respondents’ views of the economy, with younger consumers more upbeat and older ones less so. Among those in households headed by people under 35, the overall index rose to 108.4 from 102.4 while falling to 69.8 from 72.4 percent last month among those in households headed by those 55 and over. Among the middle group, covering ages 35 to 54, confidence was down to 86.2 from 89.4 in March.

The revised March figure of 83.9 is the single highest mark for the index in the past 12 months. The April figure is the second highest and the 82.1 registered in June the third highest. The lowest result in the past 12 months was 72, recorded in November.