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Consumer survey: Confidence in U.S. market declining

By Sommer Brokaw
Consumer survey: Confidence in U.S. market declining
Though shoppers were spending more this holiday season than last, according to the National Retail Federation, a Consumer Confidence Survey released Thursday shows that confidence in the U.S. economy has dwindled in the last two months of the year. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Americans' confidence in the U.S. economy's strength is declining despite an overall strong year, a consumer survey released Thursday shows.

The monthly survey conducted by Nielsen for a nonpartisan think tank called The Conference Board found that consumer confidence in business and labor market conditions decreased in December, following a modest decline the previous month.

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The percent of consumers saying business conditions are currently "good" decreased from 42 percent to 37.2 percent in December while those claiming the same conditions were "bad" increased from 10.7 percent to 11.3 percent.

Consumers confidence on economic growth in the short-term also declined slightly. The percentage expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 21.9 percent to 18.3 percent while those expecting worse business conditions increased from 8.3 percent to 9.7 percent.

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A similar downward trend was shown for the labor market.

The Expectations Index, based on short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, decreased from 112.3 last month to 99.1 this month.

"Consumer Confidence decreased in December, following a moderate decline in November," said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "Expectations regarding job prospects and business conditions weakened, but still suggest that the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace in the short-term. While consumers are ending 2018 on a strong note, back-to-back declines in Expectations are reflective of an increasing concern that the pace of economic growth will begin moderating in the first half of 2019."

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The report suggested consumers were concerned about the recent reports of declines in global equity and the housing market along with the effect of tariffs the U.S. government imposed this year.

An Edward Jones report said that 60 percent of Americans planned to spend as much or more on holiday shopping this year as they did last year due to factors such as tax cuts. However, the trade war with China, rising interest rates and market volatility, also played a role in shopping budgets.

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