Consumer confidence rebounds after Wall Street rally, end of shutdown

Consumer confidence rebounds after Wall Street rally, end of shutdown

Consumer confidence index jumps to 131.4 from 121.7

The numbers: Consumer confidence surged in February and rose for the first time in four months, a sign that Americans have regained optimism after the recovery in the U.S. stock market, the end of the government shutdown and diminished worries about recession.

The consumer confidence index climbed to 131.4 this month from a revised 121.7 in January, the Conference Board said Tuesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 124.7 reading.

What happened: Americans were a touch more positive about the economy right now, but they expect even better conditions in the months ahead. An index that tracks expectations six months from now jumped to 103.4 from 89.4.

Consumers aren’t as confident as they were last fall, however. The index had hit an 18-year high in October before suffering three straight declines that dropped it to an 18-month low.

Big picture: By most measures, the U.S. economy has slowed in early 2019, but it’s still expanding at a moderate pace.

The improvement in consumer confidence is another sign that growth could pick up a bit in the months ahead, keeping the U.S. on track to set a record for longest expansion ever. The recovery will turn 10 years old in June.

“This helps ease the sting of bad, in some cases, very bad, data at the turn of the year — see December retail sales and this morning’s housing starts report as prime examples,” said senior economist Robert Kavcic of BMO Capital Markets said.

What they are saying?: “Looking ahead, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding,” said economist Lynn Franco of the Conference Board. The “pace of expansion is expected to moderate in 2019.”

Market reaction: A fund that tracks housing stocks ITB, -0.70% slid 0.6%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.13% and S&P 500 SPX, -0.08% fell in Tuesday trades.

The 10-year Treasury note yield TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.34% fell slightly to 2.64%.

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