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Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index rose to 101.8 in September from 86.3 in August after two straight monthly declines.

Why it matters: The reading was the largest increase in 17 years, the best reading since March and was nearly 12 points above consensus expectations.

Zoom in: Unlike in previous months when consumers felt confident about the future but nervous about their present situation, all components of the index increased markedly.

  • Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions rose to 98.5 from 85.8 in August.
  • The index for consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions increased to 104.0 from 86.6 in August.

Yes, but: The reading diverged sharply from the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index, which showed confidence largely in line with recent months.

What we're hearing: The vast difference between the two surveys "leaves ongoing uncertainty over the path of consumer spending at a time of rising COVID-19 cases and growing election uncertainty," says ING chief international economist James Knightley.

  • The Conference Board's survey cut off responses Sept. 18 while the latest Michigan survey was released on Sept. 25 and will update on Friday.
  • The Conference Board polls up to 10 times the number of people, Knightley notes.
  • "The other major difference is the perception that the Conference Board measure puts more emphasis on the state of the jobs market while the University of Michigan puts more weight on personal finances and overall business conditions."

Of note: A report from research firm Morning Consult, which surveys respondents daily and has readings through Tuesday, "shows that the momentum from early September has subdued, as growth slowed in the second half of the month."

  • Morning Consult’s reading was 91.8 as of Sept. 29, up 2.2% from Aug. 31, after seeing a 5.2% peak growth rate on Sept. 10.

Go deeper

Dec 15, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: New enthusiasm for the shot

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

The share of Americans who say they'll get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it's available has doubled since September, with more than one in four now putting their hands up, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This increased comfort with or appetite for getting the vaccine is happening as the first Americans get vaccinated. It's being driven by people 65 and older, but it's happening across all age, party ID and racial and ethnic groups.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.