imageEconomic Indicators10 hours ago (Feb 25, 2020 10:26AM ET)

(Bloomberg) — U.S. consumer confidence edged up in February to the best level in six months on an improvement in expectations, signaling that solid employment and cheap fuel are helping Americans look past concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The Conference Board’s reading increased to 130.7 from a downwardly revised 130.4 in January, according to data from the New York-based group Tuesday that fell short of estimates in Bloomberg’s survey of economists. The economic expectations measure climbed to a seven-month high that barely offset the weakest reading for the present situation in eight months.

Key Insights

  • The fourth straight gain indicates that consumers are still upbeat as the labor market remains robust. The composition of the report showed that buying plans for autos, homes and appliances all posted increases.
  • The report showed 6.3% of respondents indicated they planned to buy a new vehicle in the next six months, while 2.4% said they aim to purchase a new home, both multi-year highs.
  • The reading is in step with other confidence measures, which remained elevated in February. The University of Michigan’s survey rose to the highest level in almost two years, while pessimism among U.S. consumers fell to an almost 18-year low, according to Bloomberg’s Consumer Confidence Index.

Official’s View

“Consumers continue to view current conditions quite favorably,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “Short-term expectations improved, and when coupled with solid employment growth, should be enough to continue to support spending and economic growth in the near term.”

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  • The difference between the shares of those saying jobs are plentiful and hard to get, known as the labor differential, decreased somewhat to 29.8 but was still near the best level in almost two decades.
  • Income expectations improved as more people said they expected their incomes to be higher six months from now.

(Updates from Key Insights section)

U.S. Consumer Confidence Rises to Six-Month High on Outlook

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