clear
Thursday July 30th, 2015 12:09PM

Consumer confidence slipped in June

By The Associated Press
NEW YORK - Americans can't seem to shake their uneasy feeling about the economy.

Consumer confidence fell in June for the fourth straight month as worries about the economy outweighed relief at the gas pump, according to a private research group.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index is at 62. That's down from the 64.4 reading in May and the 63.2 analysts were expecting. The index remains well below the 90 reading that indicates a healthy economy - a level it hasn't been near since the recession began in December 2007. But it's far from the all-time low of 25.3 reached in February 2009.

The indicator is widely watched because consumer spending, including major items like health care, accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. The index illustrates that Americans are worried about hiring, home values, the stock market and a worsening European economy that some fear will hurt the U.S.

"Consumers were somewhat more positive about current conditions, but slightly more pessimistic about the short-term outlook," said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board in a statement. "If this trend continues, spending may be restrained in the short-term."

Worries about job and income growth seemed to weigh the heaviest on consumers in the index survey, which is based on a poll conducted from June 1 through June 14 with about 500 randomly selected people nationwide.

Those stating jobs are "hard to get" increased to 41.5 percent from 40.9 percent, while those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 14.1 percent from 15.4 percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 14.8 percent from 15.7 percent.

Consumers' dwindling confidence follows a sharp slowdown in hiring in April and May. Meanwhile, a measure of the number of people applying for unemployment benefits over the past month has reached a six month high, the government said last week. That increase suggests that layoffs are rising and June could be another lackluster month for hiring. The government is slated to release June data next week.

Still, Americans have some reasons to be optimistic. A widely watched home price index, released Tuesday, offered some hope for the housing market. Home prices rose in nearly all major U.S. cities in April, according to The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index. That's the second straight month that prices have increased in a majority of U.S. cities.

Shoppers also are getting some relief at the gas pump. Gas prices have falling from their peak in early April. Gasoline prices fell 4 cents over the weekend to a national average of $3.41 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. And experts say gas could fall another 11 cents by July 4, next week

Despite the positive signs, Americans appear to be hoarding cash. Several companies, from restaurants to home goods sellers, have recently said customers are pulling back on spending in recent weeks unless they are lured into stores by big discounts.

Bed Bath and Beyond last week forecast lower second-quarter earnings than analysts expected and said it needed to use more coupons to get people to spend. At furniture chain Ethan Allen Inc., executives said customer traffic is slowing and shoppers are taking more time to make purchasing decisions.

And Darden Restaurants Inc., which operates Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, expects earnings short of Wall Street expectations, and it said customers were turned off by the $1 increase for Red Lobster's dish "Festival of Shrimp."

Given growing uncertainty about the economy, Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at The International Council of Shopping Centers, trimmed his sales forecast by 0.5 percentage point for June on Tuesday.

He now expects revenue at stores opened at least a year to be up 3 percent to 3.5 percent. That follows a 4 percent rise in May. The figures exclude drug stores. The metric is considered a key indicator of a retailer's health because it excludes stores that open or close during the year.

Major retailers such as Target Corp. and Macy's Inc. will be reporting final sales for June 5.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors: Blood clot located in Clinton's head
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.
3:55PM ( 2 years ago )
Illinois Sen. Kirk to return a year after stroke
Nearly a year after a stroke left him barely able to move the left side of his body, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is expected to climb the 45 steps to the Senate's front door this week - a walk that's significant not just for Illinois' junior senator, but also for medical researchers and hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.
3:54PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Ga. ethics legislation could end free tickets
General Assembly approval next year of a proposed ethics reform measure could endanger an important fall tradition for Georgia lawmakers - free football tickets.
6:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Abortion restrictions, tax changes loom in Ga.
Tax breaks for manufacturers and higher unemployment taxes for employers take effect with the new year in Georgia, but it remains to be seen whether the state's newest abortion restrictions will be enforced.
6:23PM ( 2 years ago )
Business News
Couch names administrative team
Ahead of his scheduled swearing in Friday, Hall County Sheriff-elect Gerald Couch named his top administrative team Monday.
6:28PM ( 2 years ago )
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Hall Co. officials launch health-based initiative for employees
Hall County officials believe healthy county employees will be of greater service to the county. With that in mind, they have created a health-based fitness initiative to provide free fitness training for county workers.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Confederate flags placed at Ebenezer church near MLK Center
Four Confederate battle flags were found on the grounds of the Ebenezer Baptist Church near the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta on Thursday, and police and federal authorities were investigating.
By Associated Press
11:41AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Teen hurt in Dawson Co. crash last month dies from injuries
A student from North Forsyth High School has died from injuries he suffered in a car crash a month ago.
By AccessWDUN Staff
10:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Applications for US jobless aid rise to still-low 267,000
WASHINGTON (AP) — More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, though the increase was from a very low level and the figures still point to a healthy job market.Applications for jobless ai...
8:48AM ( 3 hours ago )
US official: Plane debris in Indian Ocean same type as MH370
SYDNEY (AP) — A sea-crusted wing part washed up on an island in the western Indian Ocean may be the first trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 since it vanished nearly a year and a half ago, and a tr...
6:44AM ( 5 hours ago )
More than 200 rabbits being removed from Gwinnett property
Gwinnett County authorities said more than 200 rabbits are being removed from a property on Bennett Road in Gwinnett County.
By AccessWDUN staff
6:29AM ( 5 hours ago )