U.S. Consumer Confidence Fell Only Slightly After Hurricanes -- Update

By Eric Morath Features Dow Jones Newswires

Confidence among American consumers fell only slightly in September after two major hurricanes struck the U.S.

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U.S. consumer confidence fell to an index level of 119.8 in September from a revised 120.4 in August, the Conference Board said Tuesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a September reading of 119.3.

The latest reading is below March's level of 124.9 -- the highest level since December 2000 -- but still above readings recorded this spring, suggesting confidence remains high nationally.

The small drop confidence "is likely to be reversed in the coming months, " said Michael Pearce, economist at Capital Economics. "The fact that confidence is still close to a 16-year high even after Charlottesville, the nuclear threat from North Korea, and two major hurricanes underlines just how resilient the household sector is."

Confidence in Texas and Florida, two states that were the most severely impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, fell considerably, but the mood in the rest of the country remained fairly positive, said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board's director of economic indicators.

"Despite the slight downtick in confidence, consumers' assessment of current conditions remains quite favorable and their expectations for the short-term suggest the economy will continue expanding at its current pace," Ms. Franco said.

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The view of the current labor market also weakened slightly, with fewer respondents saying jobs are "plentiful," though fewer also reported jobs are "hard to get."

Consumers' future outlook for the labor market was more favorable than in August. The share expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 19.5% from 16.8%. That matches with the unemployment rate trending near a 16-year low and job openings at a record high.

Write to Eric Morath at eric.morath@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 26, 2017 11:09 ET (15:09 GMT)