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U.S. Consumer Confidence Falls Unexpectedly in March

Published 03/26/2019, 10:03 AM
Updated 03/26/2019, 10:10 AM
© Reuters.

Investing.com - Confidence among U.S consumers dropped in March towards a 16-month low it hit at the beginning of the year.

The Conference Board said Tuesday its consumer confidence index fell to 124.1 in March, below expectations for a reading of 132. That's down from 131.4 in February and just slihgtly higher than its recent low of 120.2 in January.

“Confidence has been somewhat volatile over the past few months, as consumers have had to weather volatility in the financial markets, a partial government shutdown and a very weak February jobs report,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in the report.

The government’s employment report showed the creation of just 20,000 jobs in February.

Reflecting the more pessimistic outlook for a labor market that is losing momentum, the CB survey showed that the proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 16.4% from 19%, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 13.4% from 12.3%.

While Franco recognized that consumers remained confident that the economy will continue expanding in the near term, she noted that the overall trend has softened, suggesting “a moderation in economic growth”.

Other data released on Tuesday revealed that housing starts and building permits declined sharply in February. The weakness in the American real estate sector, along with the sputtering strength of consumer confidence, may foreshadow the loss of economic momentum.

U.S. economic growth slowed toward the end of 2018 and appeared to be off to weak start at the beginning of this year. Financial markets have focused on the slowdown in the broader global economy, particularly in China and Europe, while ongoing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing add to concerns.

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