The results of the Conference Board’s March Consumer Confidence survey are out.

The report’s headline index unexpectedly jumped to 82.3 in March from February’s upwardly-revised 78.3 reading, marking the highest level since January 2008. Economists predicted a much more modest gain to 78.5.

Below is the full text of the release from the Conference Board.


The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® Rebounds in March

25 Mar. 2014

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had decreased in February, improved in March. The Index now stands at 82.3 (1985=100), up from 78.3 in February. The Present Situation Index edged down to 80.4 from 81.0, while the Expectations Index increased to 83.5 from 76.5.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was March 14.

“Consumer confidence improved in March, as expectations for the short-term outlook bounced back from February’s decline,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “While consumers were moderately more upbeat about future job prospects and the overall economy, they were less optimistic about income growth. The Present Situation index, which had been on an upward trend for the past four months, was relatively unchanged in March. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue improving and believe it may even pick up a little steam in the months ahead.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was little changed in March. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 22.9 per cent from 21.2 per cent; however, those claiming business conditions are “bad” also rose, to 23.2 per cent from 22.0 per cent. Consumers’ appraisal of the labour market was relatively unchanged. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased marginally to 13.1 per cent from 13.4 per cent, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” increased slightly to 33.0 per cent from 32.4 per cent.

Consumers’ expectations, which fell last month, rebounded in March. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.1 per cent from 17.3 per cent, while those anticipating business conditions to worsen declined to 10.2 per cent from 13.6 per cent. Consumers’ outlook for the labour market was also moderately more optimistic. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead edged up to 13.9 per cent from 13.7 per cent, while those expecting fewer jobs fell to 18.0 per cent from 20.9 per cent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to grow declined to 14.9 from 15.8 per cent, but those anticipating a decline in their incomes also decreased, to 12.1 per cent from 13.4 per cent.

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