After ending 2015 on a high note and continuing that momentum into 2016 with a moderate increase last month, U.S. consumer confidence has reversed course in February.
The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 92.2, which is down from the 97.8 seen in January.
The Conference Board reports that consumers' assessment of present-day conditions declined in February. The percentage saying business conditions were "good" decreased from 27.7 percent to 26.0 percent. Those saying business conditions are "bad" increased from 18.8 percent to 19.8 percent.
Consumers' appraisal of the labor market was also less positive. Those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased from 23.0 percent to 22.1 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" rose to 24.2 percent from 23.6 percent.
Consumers were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook than in January. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months declined from 15.9 percent to 14.6 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 10.7 percent to 12.0 percent.
Consumers' outlook for the labor market was less optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 13.4 percent to 12.2 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased slightly from 17.0 percent to 17.2 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined from 18.6 percent to 17.2 percent, while the proportion expecting a reduction in income increased from 10.7 percent to 12.5 percent.
"Consumer confidence decreased in February, after posting a modest gain in January," said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "Consumers' assessment of current conditions weakened, primarily due to a less favorable assessment of business conditions. Consumers' short-term outlook grew more pessimistic, with consumers expressing greater apprehension about business conditions, their personal financial situation, and to a lesser degree, labor market prospects. Continued turmoil in the financial markets may be rattling consumers, but their assessment of current conditions suggests the economy will continue to expand at a moderate pace in the near-term."
The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch.