The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index dropped slightly in March, but consumers’ outlook on the economy improved, the research organization said.
The confidence index dropped 1.4 points to 70.2 in March, after rising sharply in February from 61.5 the previous month. It is still close to levels last seen a year ago.
“The moderate decline was due solely to a less favorable short-term outlook,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.
That’s good news for shippers, who saw orders for manufactured durable goods rebound 2.2 percent in February after falling 3.6 percent in January.
Importantly, consumers’ appraisal of long-term conditions improved in March, with the Present Situation Index rising to 51, its highest level since September 2008.
That 4.6 point increase suggests “that despite this month’s dip in confidence, consumers feel the economy is not losing momentum,” Franco said.
The Conference Board’s monthly Consumer Confidence Survey found those claiming business conditions are good increased from 13.7 percent to 14.3 percent.
However, those claiming business conditions are bad rose to 32.7 percent from 31.7 percent. Those believing jobs are hard to get rose 2.4 percent to 41 percent.
The Conference Board index is one indicator that signals the economy is growing, even if the recovery’s progress is halting, slow and still challenged.
In addition to the durable goods report released Wednesday, the American Trucking Associations For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rebounded in February.
The tonnage index rose 0.5 percent from January and 5.5 percent year-over-year, after declining 4.6 percent in January from a pre-holiday surge in December.
The Cass Freight Shipments Index rose 3.5 percent year-over-year and 2.5 percent month-to-month in February, reaching its highest level since last October.