The U.S. economy received a rare jolt of good news just moments ago, when the U.S. Conference Board noted that its July survey on consumer confidence had actually gained nicely, rising from an upwardly revised June reading of 62.7 to a July result of 65.9. Expectations had been that July's performance would have fallen from the initially reported June tally of 62.0 to just 61.0 during the now-ending month.
Note that the monthly survey of roughly 5,000 U.S. households is conducted by NFO Research, Inc., of Greenwich Connecticut, for the Conference Board, a private New York-based research organization.
Meanwhile, the July tally of 65.9, exceeded not only the June figure, but also the May result of 64.4, making this latest survey the strongest since April, when this metric had come in at 68.7. Readings in February, March, and April had been notably stronger, ranging from the aforementioned 68.7 to 71.6 in February. The more paltry second-quarter data--especially the May and June results--were consistent with the moderating rate of U.S. gross domestic product growth in that period. All told, GDP gained just a meager 1.5% in the April-through-June interim, down from the first-quarter expansion rate of 2.0%.
Not only did we see an increase in the overall confidence index in the now-concluding month, but we also witnessed a nice uptick in the expectations component, which looks out some six months, and which tends to be generally more optimistic. That survey result, in fact, strengthened notably in July, rising from June's 73.4 to 79.1. However, the present situations component was less upbeat, actually easing nominally from 46.6 to 46.2.
Moreover, employment expectations were not invigorating either, as those seeing jobs as plentiful declined, while those viewing them as not so plentiful increased in the latest month.
Looking at the series, Lynn Franco, the Director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board intoned that "Despite this month's improvement in confidence, the overall index remains at historically low levels." Still, the report indicated that there was some firming in optimism about the short-term outlook.
On balance, the report was better than expected, but clearly not a game changer, nor does it figure to alter the approach by the Federal Reserve, which has this morning commenced its two-day FOMC meeting, a confab that is now generally expected to bring about some additional monetary stimulus efforts.
At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.