Consumer confidence still in the doldrums: The Conference Board
Consumer confidence remained unchanged in September, with many consumers still pessimistic about the economy, The Conference Board said in its latest consumer confidence index. Consumer confidence is one factor that determines the likelihood of sales in the housing market. As consumer confidence wanes, home prices also remain lower than year ago levels, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indice said Tuesday. Consumer confidence plunged to 45.2 on a 100-point scale in August, edging up only a slight bit to 45.4 in September. Meanwhile, the present situation index fell to 32.5 from 34.3 over last month, suggesting consumers are feeling the weight of economic turmoil. "The pessimism that shrouded consumers last month has spilled over into September," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Consumer expectations, which had plummeted in August, posted a marginal gain. However, consumers expressed greater concern about their expected earnings, a sign that does not bode well for spending. In addition, consumers' assessment of current conditions declined for the fifth consecutive month, a sign that the economic environment remains weak." Consumers who believe business conditions are generally good fell to 11.7% from 14.1%, while survey takers who reported negative economic conditions in the market remained at 40.4%. About 50% of survey respondents said jobs are hard to get in this economy. Write to Kerri Panchuk.