Consumer confidence index, October 2022: Confidence takes a hit

Consumers were more confident than in the previous two months, but inflation concerns are taking hold.

WASHINGTON – U.S. consumer confidence weakened this month as concerns about inflation took hold after easing slightly in recent months.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index fell to 102.5 in October, from 107.8 in September. Consumers were more confident in the previous two months as prices The increase in gas was revised slightly even as costs for other essentials remained elevated.

The Business Research Group’s Current Situation Index – which measures consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – fell sharply to 138.9 from 150.2 in September. .

The board’s expectations index – a measure of consumers’ six-month outlook for income, business and labor conditions – fell to 78.1 from 79.5 last month.

Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s senior director of economic indicators, said an expectation reading below 80 is a level associated with a recession, suggesting risks appear to be increasing.

The government reported recently that inflation in the United States accelerated in September, with the cost of housing and other necessities intensifying the pressure on families, wiping out wage increases and all but guarantee that the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates aggressively.

Since March, the Fed has carried out its fastest rate hikes in decades to try to contain inflation that has punished households with soaring costs for food, gas, rent and housing. other essential needs.

In late September, the Fed raised its short-term benchmark interest rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, to a range of 3% to 3.25%, the highest level since early 2008. This is the central bank’s third consecutive three-quarter point. gains and most economists and analysts expect more gains before the year ends, including another potential 0.75 percentage point gain when the Fed meets next week.

Franco said that inflationary pressures will continue to be a drag on confidence and spending “could lead to a challenging holiday season for retailers”.

Earlier this month, the government reported that the pace of sales at US retailers was flat in September compared with August. Rising rents and food prices have affected how much Americans are willing to pay. spend elsewhere.

Despite the overall decline in confidence, Franco noted that consumers’ intention to buy big-ticket items – major appliances and cars – has increased slightly this month.

General Motors reported Tuesday that its third-quarter net profit jumped 36.7% thanks to strong sales.

Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson said the company doesn’t see any signs that demand for new cars is slowing despite higher interest rates and inflation. “Price remains strong, demand remains strong for our products,” he told reporters early Tuesday.

The Conference Board also noted that home purchase intentions also increased this month. That’s a somewhat surprising development given that sales of existing homes have fallen for eight straight months with US long-term mortgage rates rising by nearly 7% last week. Consumer confidence index, October 2022: Confidence takes a hit

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