Bloomberg – U.S. consumer confidence improved for a sixth straight month in July to a fresh pandemic high as Americans grew more optimistic about current business and labor market conditions.
The Conference Board’s index rose to 129.1 from a revised 128.9 reading in June, according to the group’s report Tuesday. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had called for a decline to 123.9. Inflation expectations eased slightly — though remain elevated — while buying plans strengthened.
The confidence gauge is nearing pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that consumers are growing more upbeat as economic activity resumes. Even so, concerns about rising consumer prices and the delta variant have climbed in recent weeks, which could weigh on sentiment in the coming months.
The Conference Board’s gauge of current conditions rose to 160.3, also a fresh pandemic high. The share of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” increased to a 21-year high. Consumers’ view of present business conditions also improved slightly. Economic expectations were little changed.
“Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting economic growth in Q3 is off to a strong start,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.
Consumers said they were more likely to purchase cars, homes and major appliances in the next six months. The share of consumers who plan to buy appliances was at the highest level since the end of 2017.
The report precedes the government’s first estimate of second-quarter gross domestic product on Thursday, which is forecast to show that personal consumption grew an annualized 10.5%.
Expectations for future income and job availability both improved. The share of respondents that said they expect their incomes to increase in the next six months picked up to 20.6%, the highest since February 2020.