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Consumer Confidence Declines Again: Conference Board

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Continuing a downward slide, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased in December after a “modest” decline in November — perhaps foreshadowing slowing economic growth to come in the new year.

According to the Conference Board, the index now stands at 128.1 (1985=100), down from 136.4 in November. The Present Situation Index, which is based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, also decreased,  to 171.6 from 172.7. The Expectations Index, which is based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, saw a bigger drop, from last month’s 112.3 to just 99.1 in December.

“Consumer confidence decreased in December, following a moderate decline in November,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.

Franco added, “Expectations regarding job prospects and business conditions weakened, but still suggest that the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace in the short term. While consumers are ending 2018 on a strong note, back-to-back declines in expectations are reflective of an increasing concern that the pace of economic growth will begin moderating in the first half of 2019.”

Consumers are less enthusiastic about current conditions than they were last month, with the percentage of consumers saying business conditions are “good” falling to 37.2% from 42.0%; in addition, those saying that business conditions are “bad” rose to 11.3% from 10.7%.

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And they’re not ecstatic about the labor market, either, with those claiming jobs are “plentiful” falling to 46.2% from 46.8%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” sliding  to 11.6% from 12.6%.

Consumers aren’t as optimistic about the future in the short term, with the percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreasing in December to 18.3% from 21.9%; those expecting business conditions to worsen increased to 9.7% from 8.3%.

There’s also rising worry about the labor market, with the proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead falling to 16.6% from 22.7%; in addition, those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 14.4% from 11.2%.

And when it came to short-term income prospects, consumers also were gloomier, with the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement falling to 22.4% from 23.2%, and the proportion expecting a decrease rising to 7.7% from 7.2% .

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