US consumer confidence falls more than expected

25 Nov 2020 / 00:50 H.

WASHINGTON: The outlook among US consumers is increasingly grim, sending confidence lower as the country grapples with a surge in Covid-19 cases, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The Conference Board, a New York-based business research organisation, reported consumer confidence falling slightly more than expected to 96.1 from its upwardly revised 101.4 in October, driven mostly by worsening forecasts for the months ahead.

"Heading into 2021, consumers do not foresee the economy, nor the labour market, gaining strength," senior director of economic indicators Lynn Franco said. "In addition, the resurgence of Covid-19 is further increasing uncertainty and exacerbating concerns about the outlook."

The survey found the percentage of people expecting business conditions to improve in the coming months falling nearly nine points to 27.4%, while those expecting them to worsen rose about four points to 19.8%.

The proportion of consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead fell by about six points to 25.9%, while those expecting fewer jobs increased slightly.

Expectations for income remained flat, with a slight fall registered among those expecting to see their earnings decline.

Robert Frick of Navy Federal Credit Union warned the report was a bad omen for the economy, which seems set to weather the latest surge in cases without additional aid from Congress owing to a long-running deadlock over passing more stimulus.

"With spending weakening already, we can expect even less as many Americans hunker down and shelter, awaiting the wide distribution of coronavirus vaccines in the spring," he said in an analysis.

The downbeat developments didn't seem to impact consumers' expectations for the present, which remained generally stable this month.

The percentages of consumers saying business conditions were "good" and "bad" both declined slightly, while opinions on employment opportunities were stable. – AFP

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