Consumer confidence rises in August, but conditions weaken
An improved short-term outlook boosted consumer confidence for the first time in two months in August but the average American's take on current economic conditions continued to weaken during the month, according to the private research firm The Conference Board. The board's consumer confidence index for August was 53.5, topping the consensus analysts' estimate of 50.5, according to Thomson Reuters, and up from a revised July figure of 51. Lynn Franco, director of board's consumer research center, said "consumer assessment of current conditions was less favorable as employment concerns continue to weigh heavily on consumer attitudes." "Expectations about future business and labor market conditions have brightened somewhat, but overall, consumers remain apprehensive about the future," Franco said. "All in all, consumers are about as confident today as they were a year ago." The number of consumers surveyed in August by research firm TNS for the Conference Board who said business conditions are bad fell to 41.9% from 43.3%, while those who said business is good slipped slightly to 8.7% from 8.8% the month earlier. Meanwhile, consumers expecting the business climate to improve over the next six months climbed to 17% from 15.8%, as those predicting worsening conditions fell to 13.4% from 15.3%. According to private surveyor Market Rates Insight, consumers are exhibiting one-third less confidence in the economy during the current downturn in annual percentage yield deposit rates compared to the previous deposit-rate dip in January of 2004. Write to Jason Philyaw.