Ahead of the Bell: US Consumer Confidence

US consumer confidence likely rose again in May, helped by improving job market

Associated Press
US consumer confidence moved up in May
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In this photo taken May 14, 2014, Jody Dickman, of Pittsburgh walks in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh after shopping for a workout outfit at an Athleta store. The private Conference Board reports on consumer confidence for May on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Conference Board reports on consumer confidence for June. The report will be released Tuesday at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

MODEST GAIN: Economists expect that the private business group's confidence index will rise to 83.5 from 83 in May, according to a survey by FactSet. The May reading was the second-highest since January 2008, one month into the Great Recession. Only March was higher at 83.9. Confidence has been rising slowly but steadily since bottoming out at 25.3 in February 2009.

It still hasn't returned to full health. It consistently topped 90 before the recession.

Consumers' attitudes are closely watched because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

FEELING BETTER ABOUT JOBS: Last month, the percentage of Americans who expected their incomes to grow over the next six months hit the highest level since December 2007. Americans were also feeling more confident about the job market.

The U.S. economy last month generated more than 200,000 jobs for the fourth straight month -- the longest such streak since 1999. The unemployment rate has tumbled to 6.3 percent in May from 7.5 percent a year earlier.

RECOVERING FROM A SLOW START: Icy weather put the economy in a deep freeze the first three months of the year: From January through March, the economy contracted at a 1 percent annual rate -- a figure that might be downgraded even more when the government issues updated first-quarter numbers Wednesday.

But economists expect the economy to pick up momentum as the year wears on and to be expanding at a 3 percent annual pace in the second half of 2014. Sales of existing homes last month posted the biggest monthly gain in nearly three years, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday. The 4.9 percent increase in sales raised hopes that housing is beginning to regain momentum lost over the past year.

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