Consumers found a bit more cause for optimism and appeared less concerned about inflation in April.
The Consumer Confidence Index rose slightly in April to 65.4 from 63.8 in March, boosted by gains in both of its components. The Present Situation Index moved to 39.6 from 37.5, while the Expectations Index was up to 82.6 from 81.3 last month.
The result was better than the 64.8 mark expected, on average, by analysts.
Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said, “Inflation expectations, which had spiked, retreated somewhat in April. Although confidence remains weak, consumers’ assessment of current conditions gained ground for the seventh straight month, a sign that the economic recovery continues.”
Chris Christopher, U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight, noted that the shocks from American military intervention in Libya, increased turmoil in other parts of the Middle East and Japan’s triple calamity regarding its earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster have waned.
“Consumers are actually more confident in the current economic conditions due to a falling unemployment rate and increased income — respondents’ evaluation of current economic conditions has been increasing since September and is at its highest level since November of 2008.” He cautioned that consumers are still pessimistic about the country’s economic future.
According to the Conference Board’s survey, while consumers’ assessment of the current labor market was more favorable than last month, their responses were mixed on outlook six months out. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 17.5 percent from 19.6 percent. Those who expect fewer jobs also fell, slipping slightly to 19 percent from 20.5 percent in March.