By Xavier Fontdegloria


Consumer confidence in the U.S. edged up in September, bouncing sharply from a post-lockdown low and outpacing expectations, according to data from The Conference Board released Tuesday.

The consumer confidence index increased to 101.8 in September from an upwardly revised 86.3 in August. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expected the reading to stand at 90.1.

The present situation index, which reflects consumers assessment of current business and labor market conditions, climbed to 98.5 from 85.8 the previous month. The expectations index, which gauges short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, increased to 104.0 in September from 86.6 in August.

Despite registering the biggest monthly gain since the pandemic hit the U.S., consumer confidence levels remain below February's pre-pandemic level of 132.60.

A more favorable view of current business and labor market conditions, coupled with renewed optimism about the short-term outlook, helped spur this month's rebound in confidence, said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "Consumers also expressed greater optimism about their short-term financial prospects, which may help keep spending from slowing further in the months ahead," she said.

In September, the percentage of consumers claiming that business conditions are good increased to 18.3% from 16.0%, while those claiming business conditions are bad fell to 37.4% from 43.3%.

Americans also were more optimistic about the short-term outlook. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will improve over the next six months increased to 37.1% from 29.8%, while those expecting business conditions will worsen decreased to 15.8% from 20.7% the prior month.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence figures are in line with the University of Michigan's preliminary gauge of sentiment for the month, released on Sept. 18, which signaled consumer sentiment edging up to the top of the range it has traveled since the pandemic hit the country.


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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 29, 2020 10:30 ET (14:30 GMT)

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