Although the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index remains about six percentage points below its April high for this year, September's 104.5 (1985=100) is a marked improvement from August's 100.2, its low for 2006.
"A more favorable assessment of current conditions coupled with a less pessimistic short-term outlook boosted consumer confidence this month," says Lynn Franco, director of the consumer research center at the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group. "However, even though consumers concerns have eased, there is little to suggest significant change in economic activity as we enter the final quarter of 2006," she added. Indeed, consumers expecting business conditions to improve during the next six months remained essentially unchanged in September at 16.3%.
The monthly consumer confidence index, a closely watched indicator since consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of all U.S. economic activity, is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.