April Consumer Confidence Slips but Remains Strong

The latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was released this morning based on data collected through April 13. The headline number of 120.3 was a decrease from the final reading of 124.9 for March, a downward revision from 125.6. Today's number was below the Investing.com consensus of 122.5.

Here is an excerpt from the Conference Board press release.

"Consumer confidence declined in April after increasing sharply over the past two months, but still remains at strong levels," said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "Consumers assessed current business conditions and, to a lesser extent, the labor market less favorably than in March. Looking ahead, consumers were somewhat less optimistic about the short-term outlook for business conditions, employment and income prospects. Despite April's decline, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand in the months ahead."

Putting the Latest Number in Context

The chart below is another attempt to evaluate the historical context for this index as a coincident indicator of the economy. Toward this end, we have highlighted recessions and included GDP. The regression through the index data shows the long-term trend and highlights the extreme volatility of this indicator. Statisticians may assign little significance to a regression through this sort of data. But the slope resembles the regression trend for real GDP shown below, and it is a more revealing gauge of relative confidence than the 1985 level of 100 that the Conference Board cites as a point of reference.

Consumer Confidence

On a percentile basis, the latest reading is at the 90th percentile of all the monthly data points since June 1977, down from the 91st percentile the previous month.