NEW YORK — Consumers were a bit more optimistic this month, sending the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index up modestly to 105.7 from 104.7 last month.

The modest gain could be attributed to a slightly better outlook for the future, although short-term expectations were lower. Of the Index’s two components, the Present Situation Index declined to 132.7 from 134.1, while the Expectations Index edged up to 87.6 from 85.1 last month.

“The slight bounce-back in confidence this month was a result of the moderate improvement in consumers’ expectations,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement. “Despite the uptick, consumers remain concerned about the short-term outlook. Furthermore, the Present Situation Index lost ground for the second consecutive month, a signal that the economy is shifting into lower gear heading into the second half of this year.”

Consumers’ overall assessment of current conditions were still favorable, but those who viewed conditions as “good” declined to 26.8 percent from 28.5 percent. For the longer term, consumers’ outlook for the next six months improved marginally. Those expecting business conditions to worsen declined to 11.8 percent from 12.9 percent, while those expecting business conditions to improve barely rose to 16.8 percent from 16.5 percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of consumers anticipating their incomes to increase in the months ahead remained unchanged at 17.1 percent.

On the jobs front, the review of conditions was mixed. Consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 28.1 percent from 29.1 percent, while those who said jobs are “hard to get” dipped slightly to 19.9 percent from 20.2 percent. The outlook for the labor market was slightly better, with those expecting more jobs to become available over the next six months rising to 15.6 percent from 14.8 percent last month. Those expecting fewer jobs fell to 17 percent from 18 percent.

This story first appeared in the June 28, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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