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US Consumer Confidence Bounces Back From April Dip

U.S. consumers seemed a little more sanguine in May on the state of the nation’s economy, as the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to 95.4, up from April’s 94.3 level.

Still, that slight bounce, even though slightly better than the 95 tally economists had expected, stood markedly below the 101.4 reading reported in March of this year. Drilling down a bit into other data, the present situation index, which measures U.S. consumers’ views of the current economic climate, rose to 108.1 in May, up from a revised April number of 105.1, which itself had been lowered from 106.8.

The Conference Board’s survey found that May respondents showed somewhat mixed thoughts about the present U.S. job market even as they remained more optimistic about future trends. Some 20.7 percent of those surveyed described jobs are “plentiful,” which is better than the 19 percent who used the same descriptor in April. Conversely, another 27.3 percent of people in May told the Board that jobs are “hard to get,” and that is just under the 26 percent that said the same thing in April.

The share of respondents anticipating more jobs in the next six months rose to 14.6 percent in May from 13.8 percent, saying that in April the share expecting fewer jobs fell to 15.5 percent from 16.4 percent.

Perhaps giving pause is the fact that only 17.4 percent of households think their incomes will increase through the next six months. That is unchanged from the April reading. But in a note of pessimism, a full 11.1 percent project that their earnings will actually decline. That’s up sequentially from a 10.8 percent level and marks the highest report since October of last year.

“This moderate firming in confidence is a positive, suggesting that consumers are looking beyond the soft first quarter and believe that conditions have stabilized,” wrote Jim Baird, chief financial officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors, in a research note quoted by The Wall Street Journal.

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