Americans’ Confidence in the Economy Falls, is at Lowest Level Since Summer

The confidence Americans feel in the economy is still quite high even though Wall Street doesn’t share the same optimism. (Bloomberg News/Landov)
The confidence Americans feel in the economy is still quite high even though Wall Street doesn’t share the same optimism. (Bloomberg News/Landov)

The numbers: The confidence Americans feel in the economy fell for the second month in a row and touched the lowest level since last summer, perhaps a sign that worries about the 9 1/2-year U.S. expansion have spread from Wall Street to Main Street.

The consumer confidence index dropped to 128.1 this month from a revised 136.4 in November, the Conference Board said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 133.3 reading.

Confidence is now at its lowest ebb since July, putting the index almost 10 points below an 18-year peak set in October.

What happened: Consumer confidence doesn’t take its cues directly from what’s happening on Wall Street, but the stock market’s plunge in the past few months is likely reshaping how Americans view the economy.

Wall Street jitters about the U.S. economy might also be weighing on the minds of Americans. Most economists predict the U.S. will slow in 2019 as recent government stimulus recedes and the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.

The present situation index, a measure of how Americans view the economy right now, slipped to 171.6 from 172.7.

The bigger worry is about 2019. The future expectations index — what Americans think the economy will look like six months from now — sank to 99.1 from 112.3. That’s the lowest reading since October 2016 — the month before Donald Trump won the presidential election.

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SOURCE: JEFFRY BARTASH
MarketWatch