NEW YORK–The consumer confidence index finished February at 70.4, its highest reading since February 2008 and up 5.6 points from the January level.
Consumers’ increasing optimism about the short-term future helped drive the indicator this month, according to Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center at The Conference Board, which provides the monthly index. This was reflected in a 7.8-point gain in the expectations index, one of the two key component numbers, to 95.1. The present-situation index gained 2.3 points to 33.4.
In addition, a greater ratio of consumers expressed their belief that business conditions will improve in the short term, and that their incomes will rise down the road. While a lesser percentage of consumers thought that jobs will increase in that time frame, a smaller percentage of consumers also felt that jobs will decrease. In their assessment of current economic conditions, a higher ratio of consumers felt that business conditions and the labor market are in good shape.
“Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor-market conditions has improved moderately, but still remains rather weak,” Franco said. “Looking ahead, consumers are more positive about the economy and their income prospects, but feel somewhat mixed about employment conditions.”