Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Consumer Confidence Rises. Sign That Recovery Is Still Ahead?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Consumer Confidence Rises. Sign That Recovery Is Still Ahead?

Article excerpt

An index of consumer confidence rose to 53.5 in August, up from 51.0 in July, the Conference Board reported. Still, the index remains well below normal.

Economic reports on Tuesday hinted more at recovery than at a feared "double dip" recession.

The signs included a rise in consumer confidence and a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) report showing improved health for America's banks - an industry that plays a vital role in fueling overall economic growth. Also, a survey in the Midwest pointed to continued growth in the US manufacturing sector.

The reports come at a time of investor anxiety about whether the economic recovery might fade out this fall. A slowdown or dip back into recession is still possible, but Tuesday's reports, along with some other recent indicators, provide hope for avoiding that dire outcome.

US stock indexes opened Tuesday on a down note, but then turned positive compared with their close on Monday as the economic reports came out.

Still, forecasters generally see a slow recovery ahead, not a robust environment for job creation. That outlook is shared by ordinary Americans, judging by the new survey of consumers.

The index of consumer confidence rose to 53.5 in August, up from 51.0 in July, the Conference Board reported. But the index remains well below normal. (It stood at 100 in 1985 and was above 100 before the recession.)

"Consumer confidence posted a modest gain in August, the result of an improvement in consumers' short-term outlook," said Lynn Franco, director of consumer research at the Conference Board, in releasing the the survey. "Consumers' assessment of current conditions, however, was less favorable as employment concerns continue to weigh heavily on consumers' attitudes. …

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