Sep 25, 2019

Consumer confidence tumbles, but remains historically high

Data: The Conference Board; Chart: Axios Visuals

The stock market was also stung by a weak U.S. consumer confidence report from the Conference Board on Tuesday.

By the numbers: The index fell to 125.1 in September from a downwardly revised 134.2 in August. That was the biggest drop in 9 months, and the most the index has missed versus economists' expectations since 2010, according to Reuters.

What they're saying: “The escalation in trade and tariff tensions in late August appears to have rattled consumers,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a release accompanying the data. “[I]t appears confidence is plateauing.”

  • “We aren’t in a recession yet, but the consumer is plainly worried,” Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG, told Reuters. “Consumer confidence is fragile and any further escalation of the trade war will probably be all it takes to push them and the economy over the edge.”

Yes, but: Consumer confidence remains historically high. The Conference Board's index has yet to fall below 120 in 2019. It had barely risen above 120 in nearly 2 decades prior to 2017.

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Why it matters: The bond market's limited movement in the face of historically weak manufacturing and deteriorating employment data suggests the worst may be over, analysts say.

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The world according to Jerome Powell

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images. Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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The bears are in control now

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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