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Stronger Economic Growth Ahead?

March 27, 2002

Conference Board Reports ?Striking? Gains In Consumer Confidence Indices

Inman News Features

The Conference Board announced that its monthly Consumer Confidence Index surged this month, after taking a small dip last month. The index climbed to 110.2 (1985=100), up from 95 in February. The present situation index rose from 96.4 to 111.5 and the expectations index increased from 94 to 109.3.

"Consumers' confidence has been bolstered by the improvement in business and labor market conditions," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's consumer research center. "The latest gains are striking. The jump in the present situation index is the largest gain experienced in 25 years, while the expectations index hasn?t risen this sharply in nearly a decade. This new boom in confidence should translate into increased consumer spending and stronger economic growth ahead."

Consumers' appraisal of current conditions improved significantly in March. The percentage of those surveyed who rated current business conditions as "good" increased from 17.6 to 20.7 while the percentage who rated current business conditions as "bad" dropped from 22.8 to 18.1. The percentage of those surveyed who reported jobs were "plentiful" rose from 18.2 to 20.6 while the percentage who claimed jobs were "hard to get" fell from 22.6 to 20.8.

Consumers' expectations for the next six months also were more upbeat. Those expecting an improvement in business conditions increased from 22.3 percent to 25 percent while those anticipating worsening conditions declined from 11.1 percent to 6.3 percent.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The survey is conducted for The Conference Board by NFO WorldGroup, a member of the Interpublic group of companies (NYSE: IPG).

Copyright: Inman News Service

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