The consumer confidence index fell to 78.1 in February from 79.4 in January, the Conference Board said Tuesday. The decline resulted entirely from reduced expectations for the months ahead. How consumers assess the economy right now reached its highest level in nearly six years.Economists had expected the index to fall to 80.1 from an originally reported 80.7 in January.
The drop in overall consumer confidence stemmed from sharp decline in the so-called expectations index that asks Americans whether they think the economy will be the same, better or worse in six months. The index slid to 75.7 from 80.8, the lowest level since October.
At the same time, however, consumers expressed more optimism in the current state of the economy. The “present situation” index jumped to 81.7 from 77.3, hitting the highest peak since April 2008.
Consumer confidence is sometimes — but not always — an indicator of whether Americans feel they are likely to find a job or spend more. Usually it takes months to establish a trend, however.
What’s more, consumer confidence is still relatively low compared with prior recoveries. The monthly index tends to top 100 or more during good economic times.