Survey: American consumers’ confidence remains steady

WASHINGTON (AP) — American consumers are feeling confident about current economic conditions but are a bit warier about the future.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index was essentially unchanged in July, dipping to 97.3 from a revised 97.4 in June. The business group’s index includes consumers’ assessment of the economy now and what they expect over the next six months. Their view of today’s economy rose to the highest level since September, but their outlook slipped.

The survey was the first to measure consumers’ mood since Britain voted June 23 to leave the European Union. That so-called Brexit vote rattled financial markets but doesn’t appear to have bothered American consumers much. The share of consumers saying jobs were “hard to get” fell to 22.3 percent, lowest since August.

“The fact that the index was virtually unchanged reaffirms a degree of resilience on the part of consumers,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors.

Consumers may have welcomed lower gasoline prices: The average price of a gallon of gas has fallen to $2.15 from $2.31 a month ago.

Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s director of economic indicators, said the latest reading was consistent with “moderate” economic growth.

Consumers got off to a slow start this year, one reason the economy grew at a lackluster 1.1 percent annual pace from January through March. Their spirits seem to have improved as the weather warmed up, and economists expect their spending to drive economic growth to around a 2.5 percent annual pace from April through June.

One encouraging sign: Retail sales posted a healthy 0.6 percent increase in June.

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