After reaching a 7.5-year high last month, U.S. consumer confidence has taken a slight step back. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 96.4, down from 103.8 in January.
"After a large gain in January, consumer confidence retreated in February, but still remains at pre-recession levels," said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "Consumers' assessment of current conditions remained positive, but short-term expectations declined."
Consumers' appraisal of current conditions was moderately less favorable in February than in January. Those saying business conditions are "good" decreased from 28.2 percent to 26.0 percent, however those claiming business conditions are "bad" decreased from 17.3 percent to 17.0 percent.
Consumers were also somewhat less positive in their assessment of the job market, with the proportion stating jobs are "plentiful" decreasing slightly from 20.7 percent to 20.5 percent, and those claiming jobs are "hard to get" increasing from 24.6 percent to 26.2 percent.
Consumers' optimism about the short-term outlook was considerably less positive in February. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 18.9 percent to 16.1 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 8.2 percent to 8.7 percent.
"While the number of consumers expecting conditions to deteriorate was virtually unchanged, fewer consumers expect conditions to improve, prompting a less upbeat outlook," Franco continued. "Despite this month's decline, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand at the current pace in the months ahead."
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.