U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Drops, Hits Four-Month Low

U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in December to a four-month low amid surging Covid-19 cases that are spurring more states to tighten restrictions on businesses and travel.

The Conference Board index dropped to 88.6 from a downwardly revised 92.9 in November, according to a report from the group Tuesday. That missed all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists that had called for 97. The measure of sentiment about current conditions fell the most since April, while the expectations gauge rose from a four-year low.

U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Drops, Hits Four-Month Low

The unexpectedly downbeat reading amid record virus cases and deaths comes just as new vaccines and federal-aid plans offer more reasons for optimism about the coming months. The latest reading, reflecting responses through Dec. 14, remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions deteriorated sharply in December, as the resurgence of Covid-19 remains a drag on confidence,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in the statement.

The report contrasts with another key measure of the country’s outlook. The University of Michigan’s gauge of U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly increased in early December to the second-highest level since March. However, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index has fallen for four straight weeks after rebounding since May.

The share of survey respondents who said they expected their incomes to increase edged up to 16.8 from 16, the board said.

On the labor market, the share of respondents saying jobs are plentiful declined for a second month. For expectations, the share saying that fewer jobs will be available in the next six months rose to a seven-year high of 22.2%.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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