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 The Conference Board, the New York-based research organization, has reported that its aggregate survey on consumer confidence eased back a bit in July, falling from an upwardly revised June reading of 82.1 to July's result of 80.3. Initially, the June estimate had been given as 81.4.

Interestingly, one of the components of this report, the Present Situations Index increased this month, rising to an estimated 73.6 from 68.7 in June. This tends to be a less optimistic component than the overall survey. On the other hand, the Expectations Index, which looks further ahead, and tends to be more positive, on average, eased back, falling from last month's estimated 91.1 to July's 84.7. That is still a relatively high level, however. It should be noted that the cutoff date for this report was July 18th.

According to Lynn Franco, the Director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board, ''Consumer Confidence fell slightly in July, precipitated by a weakening in consumers' economic and job expectations. However, confidence remains well above the levels of a year ago.''

Taken as a whole, this report, albeit nominally weaker than a month earlier, still points to an expansion that is on firm ground. As such, those stating that business conditions were good increased last month, while those suggesting they were bad decreased slightly. Consumers' assessment of the job market also gained slightly, but remained rather dour, which is not surprising given the elevated jobless rate of 7.6%. In fact, a clear majority still maintained that employment was still hard to secure.

Taken as a whole, this was a decent, but not game-changing, report, with the aggregate results of 80.3 being just a tad below the expected reading of 81.3. As for influences going forward, we would look to Friday's report on employment and unemployment for some indication of what the August survey on consumer confidence will show. The path of equity prices has also been a factor, historically, and would seem likely to remain so.

At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.