U.S. consumer confidence rebounds in April, boosted by solid
increase in expectations for the future, according to RBC
NEW YORK, April 9, 2009 — Reversing seven months
of crumbling confidence, Americans' economic enthusiasm rallied
this month, according to the most recent results of the RBC
CASH (Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household) Index,
which posted its first significant improvement since September
2008. Overall consumer confidence advanced 30.1 points, bringing
the RBC CASH Index to 38.3 in April, compared to 8.2 in March.
Consumer sentiment was bolstered by a 58.3 point increase
in Americans' expectations for the future. Americans' attitudes
about current conditions and investing also increased in the
past month, but they continue to worry about jobs.
"The April readings provide more evidence of a stabilization
in consumer spending," said Larry Miller, managing director,
RBC Capital Markets. "Stabilization does not mean recovery,
but is a far better prospect than the free fall of late last
year. Whether this translates into an improvement in consumer
spending is another ball game, and one that is far too early
The RBC CASH Index is a monthly national survey of consumer
attitudes on the current and future state of local economies,
personal finance situations, savings and confidence to make
large investments. The Index is composed of four sub-indices:
RBC Current Conditions Index; RBC Expectations Index; RBC
Investment Index; and, RBC Jobs Index. The Index is benchmarked
to a baseline of 100 assigned at its introduction in January
2002. This month's findings are based on a representative
nationwide sample of 1,000 U.S. adults polled from April 2
- 6, 2009, by survey-based research company Ipsos Public Affairs.
The margin of error was ±3.1 per cent.
Highlights of the survey results include:
- Advancing out of negative territory for the first time
in 2009, the RBC Expectations Index increased
58.3 points to 32.4 from its -25.9 reading in March. The
shift in the index is due largely to an improvement in Americans'
expectations for their local economy and personal financial
situation. In April, nearly four-in-ten consumers (39 per
cent) believe their community's economy will be stronger
in the next month, compared to 30 per cent in March, while
only 21 per cent believe it will continue to weaken, compared
to 30 per cent last month. In addition, only 13 per cent
of Americans expect their personal financial situation to
weaken over the next six months, compared to 18 per cent
- The RBC Current Conditions Index improved
markedly in April to 35.8, compared to 14.8 in March. This
is the second consecutive month of gains in the RBC
Current Conditions Index and the largest month-to-month
increase in current conditions since September 2006. Americans'
assessments of their current personal financial situation
as weak dropped to 30 per cent this month, compared to 35
per cent in March. In addition, this month only 41 per cent
of consumers rate their current local economic conditions
as weak, compared to 47 per cent last month.
- Consumers' overall opinions regarding investing improved
significantly this month sending the RBC Investment
Index to a reading of 44.8, up 20.2 points from
24.6 in March. The increase in the index is being driven
by improving attitudes toward stock and real estate investments.
Consumers reporting that the next 30 days will be a bad
time to invest in the stock market dropped to 61 per cent,
down from 70 per cent last month. More than half of consumers
(51 per cent) believe the next month will be a good time
to buy real estate, compared to 43 per cent in March. This
month is the first time a majority of Americans think real
estate is a good investment since the housing bubble became
apparent in 2005.
- After dropping for six consecutive months, the RBC
Jobs Index edged up 4.4 points in April to 45.2,
compared to 40.8 last month. Although consumers continue
to be peppered with bad news on the jobs front, Americans'
confidence regarding overall job security held steady, but
remains very low. This month, the share of consumers who
are more confident in their job security now than they were
six months ago held steady at 19 per cent, compared to 18
per cent in March. In addition, 37 per cent of Americans
say it is likely that they or someone they know will lose
their job in the next six months, compared to 39 per cent
The entire RBC CASH Index report can be viewed at: www.rbc.com/newsroom/rbc-cash-index.html.
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Loretta A. Healy, The Hubbell Group, Inc., (781) 878-8882
Kevin Foster, RBC, (212) 428-6902