Economist's Insights

Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Hits New 17-Year High

Nov 28, 2017

Consumer confidence rose unexpectedly in November according to the latest report from the Conference Board, with the headline index hitting its highest level in 17 years (since November 2000). The unexpected bounce was driven by gains in consumers’ assessments of both the current conditions (best since 2001) and future expectations (best since 2000); the expectations index saw the biggest improvement. General business conditions were seen as improved and the labor market continued to be a major driving force behind the optimism. Consumers had a better outlook on employment opportunities with the difference between those who believe jobs are plentiful and those who see jobs as hard to get reaching 20.2%, a new high for the cycle. However, a similar comparison of expectations for incomes to increases versus decrease remained within its year-to-date range at one if its best levels of the cycle but eased from the October result. As to indicators of economic activity, fewer reported plans to buy an automobile over the next six months while more expected to buy a home. The responses related to financial indicators reinforced recent trends in the actual data: inflation expectations one year ahead eased to match the lowest level since 2005 and the share of respondents expecting the equity bull market to continue jumped to one of its strongest levels on records back to the late 1980’s.