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First Cut: Consumer Confidence Index returns to strong readings similar to 2018

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to 134.1 in May, up from 129.2 in April and the highest since 136.4 in November 2018. Consumer confidence was shaken by signs of economic slowing in late 2018 and concerns about growth at the start of 2019. However, the strong labor market has smoothed over those worries.  Perceptions of present conditions remain at historic highs even as the outlook for the future is elevated, albeit a bit more less optimistic than the highs last year.

Although expectations for future income growth were down, it was the only component of the index to show any softness. Present and future employment was viewed as strong against a backdrop of solid present and expected business conditions.

Whether high confidence will translate into renewed consumer spending remains to be seen, but it does suggest that some of the recent reluctance visible in the recent retail sales data could give way to less caution at the checkout.

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