US Conference Board Consumer Confidence rose to 104.2 in March, surpassing the expected 101.7, and up from February’s 103.4. The Present Situation Index dipped from 153.0 to 151.1, while the Expectations Index climbed from 70.4 to 73.0. Notably, the Expectations Index has remained below 80 for 12 of the past 13 months since February 2022, a level that often indicates an impending recession within the next year.
Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director of Economics at The Conference Board, said that the March gain “reflects an improved outlook for consumers under 55 years of age and for households earning $50,000 and over.” However, he also noted that consumers are “slightly less optimistic about the current landscape,” as the share of consumers stating jobs are “plentiful” declined and those saying jobs are “not so plentiful” increased.
Moreover, consumers’ expectations of inflation over the next 12 months remain elevated at 6.3%. Purchasing plans for appliances continued to soften, while automobile purchases saw a slight increase. Despite the improvement in March, consumer confidence remains below the average level of 104.5 seen in 2022, indicating cautious optimism for the future.