By Xavier Fontdegloria


Consumer confidence in the U.S. decreased slightly in October as the short-term outlook worsened amid a new rise in Covid-19 infections, according to data from The Conference Board released Tuesday.

The consumer confidence index fell to 100.9 in October from a downwardly revised 101.3 in September. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expected consumer sentiment to edge up slightly to 102.0.

The present situation index, which reflects consumers assessment of current business and labor market conditions, increased to 104.6 from 98.9 the previous month. The expectations index, which gauges short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, ticked down to 98.4 in October from 102.9 the prior month.

October's decline follows a sharp improvement in consumer sentiment the prior month. The indicator is still far from February's pre-pandemic level of 132.60.

Americans' expectations decline was driven primarily by a softening in the short-term outlook for jobs, said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

"There is little to suggest that consumers foresee the economy gaining momentum in the final months of 2020, especially with Covid-19 cases on the rise and unemployment still high," she said.

Consumers' assessment of current conditions improved further in October, with the percentage of consumers claiming that business conditions are good stabilizing at 17.5% while that of those claiming business conditions are bad falling to 33.9% from 37%. Consumers' assessment of the labor market also was more favorable.

Looking ahead, however, consumers are less optimistic, with more Americans expecting business conditions to worsen in the next six months and anticipating fewer jobs.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence figures are in contrast with the University of Michigan's preliminary gauge of sentiment for the month, released on Oct. 16, which signaled consumer sentiment edging up slightly.


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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 27, 2020 10:33 ET (14:33 GMT)

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