Consumer confidence falls in July

July 30, 2009

A private research group says Americans' mood darkened in July as worries about job security offset any enthusiasm about the stock-market rally that has helped bolster retirement accounts.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index, which retreated last month, fell to 46.6 from 49.3 in June. Economists were expecting a reading of 49. It would take a reading above 90 to signal that the economy is on solid footing.

The two-month decline follows an upswing in confidence this spring that was fueled by a stock-market rally.

Economists closely monitor confidence because consumer spending accounts for more than 70% of economic activity.

Both components of the consumer confidence gauge fell this month. According to the Conference Board, The Present Situation Index, which measures shoppers' current assessment of the economy, declined to 23.4 from 25.0 last month. The Expectations Index, which measures shoppers' outlook over the next six months, fell to 62 from 65.5 in June.

"Consumer confidence, which had rebounded strongly in late spring, has faded," Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.

She said the decline in the Present Situation Index was caused primarily by a worsening job market. The deteriorating outlook for consumers was "more the result of an increase in the proportion of consumers expecting no change in business and labor market conditions." However, Franco said, "More consumers are pessimistic about their income expectations, which does not bode well for spending in the months ahead."