US consumer confidence hits 17-year record in October

US consumer confidence hits 17-year record in October

US consumers
The closely-watched Consumer Confidence Index fell marginally to a reading of 126.5, retreating from an upwardly revised 126.8 November level and falling short of economists' expectations. (AFP Photo)

WASHINGTON: US consumer confidence recovered from the hurricane-induced slump last month to hit a 17-year high in October, according to a monthly survey released on Tuesday (Oct 31).

And the consumer confidence index for September was revised up to show a slight increase after the initial report showed a modest decline following the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The index beat expectations, rising to 125.9 in October from the upwardly-revised 120.6 in September, the Conference Board survey showed. That marks four straight months of increases.

The positive confidence data "suggest the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace for the remainder of the year," Lynn Franco, the Conference Board's head of indicators, said in a statement.

"Consumers were also considerably more upbeat about the short-term outlook, with the prospect of improving business conditions as the primary driver."

The present condition index increased to 151.1 from 146.9, while the expectations index jumped six points to 109.1.

Confidence was boosted by the job market "which had not received such favorable ratings since the summer of 2001," Franco said.

Amid the survey's employment indicators, "jobs plentiful" jumped nearly four points to 36.3, continuing a steady march upward as the US economy has continued to create jobs at a solid pace. The "jobs hard to get" measure slipped to 17.5.

Jim O'Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics, said, "The data continue to signal a downtrend in the unemployment rate."

US unemployment in September was 4.2 per cent, it's lowest level since February 2001.

In Texas, where the economy was battered by the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey, confidence rose slightly, but the present situation index plunged for the second month to 138.6 from 152.9, according to the survey.

In contrast, confidence in Florida, where the hit from Hurricane Irma was far less damaging than initially feared, jumped to 132.5 from 125.9, and the present situation index rose to 170.8 from 162.8.

Source: AFP/de