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posted on 28 February 2017

February 2017 Conference Board Consumer Confidence Up

Written by Doug Short / Jill Mislinski

The latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was released this morning based on data collected through February 16. The headline number of 114.8 was an increase from the final reading of 111.6 for January, a downward revision from 111.8. Today's number was above the Investing.com consensus of 111.0.

Here is an excerpt from the Conference Board press release.

Consumer confidence increased in February and remains at a 15-year high (July 2001, 116.3)," said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "Consumers rated current business and labor market conditions more favorably this month than in January. Expectations improved regarding the short-term outlook for business, and to a lesser degree jobs and income prospects. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding in the months ahead.

Putting the Latest Number in Context

The chart below is another attempt to evaluate the historical context for this index as a coincident indicator of the economy. Toward this end, we have highlighted recessions and included GDP. The regression through the index data shows the long-term trend and highlights the extreme volatility of this indicator. Statisticians may assign little significance to a regression through this sort of data. But the slope resembles the regression trend for real GDP shown below, and it is a more revealing gauge of relative confidence than the 1985 level of 100 that the Conference Board cites as a point of reference.

Consumer Confidence

On a percentile basis, the latest reading is at the 85th percentile of all the monthly data points since June 1977, up from the 82nd percentile the previous month.

For an additional perspective on consumer attitudes, see the most recent Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. Here is the chart from that post.

Consumer Sentiment

And finally, let's take a look at the correlation between consumer confidence and small business sentiment, the latter by way of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index. As the chart illustrates, the two have tracked one another fairly closely since the onset of the Financial Crisis, although a spread appeared in the second half of 2015 and continued into 2016.



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