U.S. consumer confidence heats up again in March, according
to RBC Index
NEW YORK, March 4, 2010 Consumer confidence
levels rallied this month after taking a tumble in February,
according to the RBC CASH (Consumer Attitudes and Spending
by Household) Index. Buoyed by consumers' upbeat evaluations
of their current economic condition and their positive outlook
for the job market, the RBC Index for March stands at 58.2,
an 18.8 point increase from February's 39.4 reading.
"The volatile results of the RBC Index in recent months
underscore just how fragile consumer confidence has been since
the recession began," said RBC Capital Markets U.S. economist
Tom Porcelli. "In spite of statistical indicators showing
that the recession is over, many consumers do not yet see
evidence of a strong recovery in their own lives and are unsure
of what to believe. We are unlikely to see a consistent upward
trend until consumers are convinced that a solid recovery
is in place."
The RBC 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 February 26 - March 1, 2010,
by survey-based research company Ipsos Public Affairs. The
margin of error was ±3.1 per cent.
Highlights of the survey results include:
- Americans' attitudes about current conditions soared in
March, increasing 26.2 points and bringing the RBC
Current Conditions Index to 56.7, the highest level
since May 2008. Consumers reported renewed optimism in their
personal financial situation and their purchasing power.
The share of consumers who say that their personal financial
situation is strong, rose to 25 per cent this month, compared
to 21 per cent in February.
- The RBC Investment Index increased sharply
this month, climbing 24.3 points to 65.1 - the highest mark
for the Index since January 2008. The increase in investment
confidence stems from respondents' diminished fears about
their ability to save and improved personal financial considerations.
Americans who report they feel less confident in their ability
to make investments for the future dropped to 52 per cent,
down from 57 per cent in February.
- The RBC Jobs Index also rallied in March,
increasing 13.3 points to 68.2, the strongest reading for
the Index since November 2008. Americans reporting personal
job losses declined significantly, with 61 per cent saying
that they or someone they know have lost their job as the
result of economic conditions (compared to 67 per cent in
February). Perceptions of job security also improved this
month, with 32 per cent of consumers reporting more confidence
in their job security compared to six months ago (versus
February's 28 per cent).
- While significantly brighter than a year ago when the
RBC Expectations Index was in negative territory,
consumers' near-term economic outlook continues to be volatile,
showing a small upswing in March following considerable
changes in January and February. The Index currently stands
at 57.3, up 9.3 points from February's level of 48.0. Currently,
one-in-10 consumers (10 per cent) say their personal finances
will be weaker in six months, compared to 13 per cent in
February, and one-third (33 per cent) believe their finances
will strengthen in the near future. The share of consumers
who believe the economy will be weaker six months from now
held steady at 16 per cent.
The RBC 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
Kait Conetta, RBC, (212) 428-6409