1 February 2016
Interesting Outlooks and Information on the Economy
Question: “I read today that the Consumer Confidence numbers were up, but the Consumer Sentiment numbers are down. What’s the difference?
Answer: Well, very little – see their definitions and recent results below:
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had increased in December, improved moderately in January. The Index now stands at 98.1 (1985=100), up from 96.3 in December. The Present Situation Index was unchanged at 116.4, while the Expectations Index increased from 83.0 to 85.9 in January.
The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was January 14.
“Consumer confidence improved slightly in January, following an increase in December,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions held steady, while their expectations for the next six months improved moderately. For now, consumers do not foresee the volatility in financial markets as having a negative impact on the economy.”
The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is a consumer confidence index published monthly by the University of Michigan. The index is normalized to have a value of 100 in December 1964. Each month at least 500 telephone interviews are conducted of a continental United States sample Alaska and Hawaii are excluded). Fifty core questions are asked. The University of Michigan Final Consumer Sentiment for January came in at 92.0, a 1.3 point decrease from the 93.3 January Preliminary reading and a 0.6 point decrease from the December Final Reading. Investing.com had forecast an even 93.0.
The consumer confidence measures were devised in the late 1940s by Professor George Katona at the University of Michigan. They have now developed into an ongoing, nationally representative survey based on telephonic household interviews. The Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) is developed from these interviews.
Consumer confidence has remained largely unchanged, as the January reading was just 0.6% below last month’s level. The small downward revisions were due to stock market declines that were reflected in the erosion of household wealth, as well as weakened prospects for the national economy. The interviews conducted from last Friday until early this week provide no evidence that the East Coast blizzard influenced the data. To be sure, the overall level of confidence is below last January’s peak, but thus far, the decline amounts to just 6.2%, indicating slower growth, not a recession in 2016. Two sides of the same coin – Interesting, isn’t it?
The information contained in this material does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable.