October Consumer Confidence Edges Down

The Conference Board, New York, said its Consumer Confidence Index decreased marginally in October, the third straight monthly decrease.

The Index now stands at 125.9, down from 126.3 in September. The Present Situation Index, based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market condition, increased from 170.6 to 172.3. The Expectations Index, based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, declined from 96.8 last month to 94.9 this month.

“Consumer confidence was relatively flat in October,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators with The Conference Board. “Confidence levels remain high and there are no indications that consumers will curtail their holiday spending.”

Tim Quinlan, Senior Economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C., said this third straight decline puts this barometer 12 points lower than where it was in October last year.

The report said consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved somewhat in October. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased from 37.4 percent to 39.2 percent, while those saying business conditions are “bad” decreased from 12.2 percent to 11.2 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the job market was mixed. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased from 44.5 percent to 46.9 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased slightly from 11.0 percent to 11.8 percent.

Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook in October. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will improve over the next six months decreased from 20.0 percent to 18.6 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen decreased from 13.3 percent to 11.6 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 17.6 percent to 16.9 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased from 15.4 percent to 17.8 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement increased from 19.7 percent to 21.1 percent, while the proportion expecting a decrease held steady at 6.5 percent.