Consumer Confidence Pushes To Year-Ago High [AUDIO]
Gas prices may be spiking across the nation, but it's not expected to shake consumer confidence. That's according to Ken Goldstein of the Conference Board.
"Consumers worry most about jobs, income and gas prices in that order," said Goldstein. "We've gotten decent jobs news as of late and if we continue to get that kind of news on jobs and even a little bit of good news on income, then consumers will continue to spend while gassing up."
Consumer confidence in February rose to the highest level since a year ago when the economy's outlook started to look brighter before souring again. The Conference Board's consumer confidence index now stands at 70.8, up from a revised 61.5 in January. Analysts had expected a reading of 63. The February reading marks the highest level since February 2011 when it was 72.0. The index is still far below the 90 that indicates a healthy economy.
"Here in New Jersey two winters ago, we were paying as much as ten and eleven dollars for natural gas. That price right now is closer to $2.50," said Goldstein. "So, gas prices are going up, but home heating oil and electricity are not. That makes it different from earlier spikes in oil prices a year ago. Consumers aren't getting hit both at the pumps and in their homes."
The warm winter weather has helped as well. "While the weather is a minor factor compared to those out looking for employment, it does help in that it has allowed many of those people to not only look online for a job, but to go out and hit the pavement," said Goldstein.