Surveys give conflicting view on consumer confidence for May
Conference Board reports slight drop while Thomson Reuters/UM sees increase for 9th month
Furniture Today Staff -- Furniture Today, May 30, 2012
NEW YORK — Consumer confidence, which had declined slightly in April, fell a few more points in May to 64.9 (1987=100), the Conference Board said in reporting results of its monthly consumer confidence survey Tuesday. It had been at 68.7 in April.
But the results of a different survey, released Friday by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan, said consumer confidence posted its ninth straight monthly increase in May, rising to its highest level since 2007. The Thomson Reuters/UM number was 79.3, up from 76.4 in April.
Obviously the two organizations are measuring attitudes differently.
The Conference Board said its Expectations Index declined to 77.6 from 80.4, while the Present Situation Index decreased to 45.9 from 51.2 last month. The monthly survey, with a cutoff date of May 16, was done for the research organization by Nielsen.
"Consumers were less positive about current business and labor market conditions, and they were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "However, consumers were more upbeat about their income prospects, which should help sustain spending. Taken together, the retreat in the Present Situation Index and softening in consumer expectations suggest that the pace of economic growth in the months ahead may moderate."
But at Thomson Reuters/UM, Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist, said confidence "was nearly as high in the past two years before the gains were reversed.... The upbeat consumer reports on jobs could mean that more positive numbers will soon be reported by the government, or that consumers have yet again pushed their expectations beyond the likely performance of the economy."