U.S. Consumer Confidence Rose in June--Update

By Ben Leubsdorf Features Dow Jones Newswires

Americans became slightly more confident about the economy in June.

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The Conference Board on Tuesday said its index of U.S. consumer confidence rose to 118.9 from a revised 117.6 in May. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a decline to 116.0 in June.

The index in March had hit 124.9, its highest level since December 2000, then declined in April and May before rebounding a bit in June.

"Confidence is being supported by the low level of gasoline prices, the record-breaking stock market and the continued strength of labor-market conditions," Capital Economics U.S. economist Andrew Hunter said in a note to clients.

The details of Tuesday's report were mixed. An index tracking household attitudes about the present economic situation increased to 146.3 in June -- its highest level since July 2001 -- from 140.6 the prior month. But the index tracking expectations about the future fell to 100.6 this month from 102.3 in May, hitting its lowest level since January.

"Overall, consumers anticipate the economy will continue expanding in the months ahead, but they do not foresee the pace of growth accelerating," said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board's director of economic indicators.

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Some 32.8% this month said jobs were plentiful, up from 30% in May. Business conditions were described as good in June by 30.8%, up from 29.8% the prior month. But fewer households this month said they planned to buy an automobile or a house in the next six months.

Gauges of household, business and investor sentiment jumped after last year's presidential election and remain high, though some measures have drifted lower in recent months. Despite strong sentiment readings, growth in consumer spending and business investment has remained modest so far this year as the Trump administration and congressional Republicans discuss tax cuts and other legislative priorities.

"I haven't seen very much evidence that, thus far, expectations of policy changes have driven substantial changes in either consumer spending or investment spending," Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said this month. Many businesses, she said, remain confident but "have a wait-and-see attitude."

In any case, the economic expansion that began in mid-2009 remains on track and the unemployment rate in May hit a 16-year low of 4.3%. A separate gauge of U.S. consumer sentiment, produced by the University of Michigan, fell in early June to 94.5 from 97.1 in May. Richard Curtin, the Michigan survey's chief economist, said sentiment had dropped sharply after former FBI director James Comey's June 8 congressional testimony about his firing by President Donald Trump.

A final Michigan reading for June will be released on Friday; economists expect a slight further decline to 94.4.

Write to Ben Leubsdorf at ben.leubsdorf@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 27, 2017 11:10 ET (15:10 GMT)