US Consumer Confidence improves slightly in April

Consumer confidence in the US improved considerably in April, according to The Conference Board. However, the cutoff date for April’s preliminary results was 21 April – before the swine flu outbreak had gathered considerable momentum in the global media.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index had posted a slight increase in March to 26.9 (1985=100), but vaulted up to 39.2 this month.

Director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Centre, Lynn Franco, stated, April’s reading (the highest so far in 2009), was driven primarily by a significant improvement in the short-term outlook. She added the Present Situation Index posted a moderate gain, a sign that conditions have not deteriorated further, and may even moderately improve, in the second quarter. The employment outlook was also considerably less pessimistic.

The sharp increase in the Expectations Index suggests that consumers believe the economy is nearing a bottom. However, Ms Franco emphasised, “this Index still remains well below levels associated with strong economic growth.”  

Wall Street was slightly lower yesterday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 0.1% to 8,016.95. The Nasdaq shed 0.3% to 1,673.81, while the S&P 500 eased 0.3% to 855.16.

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