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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Consumer Confidence: The Present is "Bad", The Future is Looking "Less Bad"

A day late, a buck short... yesterday, the AP reported:

Americans seem more resigned to the hardships of the recession as consumer confidence stabilized in March after falling to an all-time low in February.

But economists caution that shoppers — dealing with shrinking retirement funds, falling home values and worries about job security — are still very gloomy and any improvement in sentiment is fragile.

"There is a sense that consumers are now familiar (with) how bad things are," said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group. "They have read the papers. They recognize that the job market is awful."

Some glimmers of better economic data of late helped stem further sharp declines in sentiment, which remains the lowest since at least 1967 when the index began. The Consumer Confidence Index issued Tuesday by the New York-based Conference Board edged up to 26.0 in March from a revised 25.3 reading in February. It had fallen from 37.4 in January and is less than half its level of a year ago.

Source: Conference Board