Consumer Confidence Slips In February

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Consumer confidence slipped in February, but is still at its highest mark since before the recession, The Conference Board reported.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index fell from a upwardly revised 103.8 in January to 96.4 in February. That’s still the second-highest mark since December 2007. The Present Situation Index decreased to 110.2 from 113.9, while the Expectations Index declined to 87.2 from 97.0 in January.

Just a year ago, the index stood at 73.8, marking a robust gain in the last 12 months.

“After a large gain in January, consumer confidence retreated in February, but still remains at pre-recession levels,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remained positive, but short-term expectations declined. While the number of consumers expecting conditions to deteriorate was virtually unchanged, fewer consumers expect conditions to improve, prompting a less upbeat outlook. Despite this month’s decline, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand at the current pace in the months ahead.”

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After hitting an 11-year high in January, consumer sentiment was down slightly in February, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers.

The 95.4 mark was lower than January’s 98.1, but higher than the preliminary February number of 93.6 released earlier this month. Consumer sentiment is still higher than it has been since before the recession.

“It is hard not to attribute the small February decline to the temporary impact of the harsh weather, as declines that occurred in the Northeast and Midwest were triple the average loss, while Southern residents grew more optimistic,” said chief economist Richard Curtin in the report.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, released earlier this week, was also down from January, but remains at a post-recession high.

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