US consumer confidence rises to 98.1 in June

MARTIN CRUTSINGER

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence rose in June, reflecting the partial re-opening of the country but the concern is that rising coronavirus cases in many states could jeopardize future gains.

The Conference Board, a New York-based research organization, said that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 98.1 in June after virtually no change at 85.9 in May.

Even with the June rebound, the confidence index remains well below its pre-pandemic levels. The reading on consumer confidence is closely watched for clues it can give about future consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of economic activity.

The present situations index, based on consumers' short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, increased in June as did the expectations index, but both remain at depressed levels.

“The re-opening of the economy and relative improvement in unemployment claims helped improve consumers' assessment of current conditions,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

But looking ahead, Franco said, “Faced with an uncertain and uneven path to recovery, and a potential COVID-19 resurgence, it's too soon to say that consumers have turned the corner and are ready to begin spending at pre-pandemic levels.”

The confidence index was at a high this year of 132.6 in February before falling sharply in March and April as the shutdown efforts brought the U.S. economy to a standstill.