Consumer Confidence increases in March Survey. US House Prices edge higher.


Consumer confidence rose more than expected in March after decrease in February, according to a report released today by the Conference Board, which produces the Consumer Confidence Index. In a survey of 5,000 households, the index showed that consumer confidence increased by 6.1 points from 46.4 in February to a standing at 52.5 in March. The Expectations index also rose in March to 70.2 from 62.9 in February while the Present Situation index advanced from 21.7 in February to 26.0 in March.

Market forecasts were expecting consumer confidence to rise to a 51.0 score for the month.

The Director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center Lynn Franco talked about the newest survey saying, “Consumer confidence, which had declined sharply in February, managed to recoup most of the loss in March. However, despite this month’s increase, consumers continue to express concern about current business and labor market conditions. And, their outlook for the next six months is still rather pessimistic. Overall, consumer confidence levels have not changed significantly since last spring.”

U.S. house prices see small gain in January

Home prices in the U.S. improved in January to show a small increase for the eighth straight month, according to the Standard & Poors/Case-Shiller Home Price Index released today. The S & P’s/Case-Shiller Index measures sales prices of existing single-family homes in major cities nationally. The report showed that the 20-city composite index increased by 0.3 percent in January on seasonally adjusted basis after a similar 0.3 percent increase in December. On an annual basis, the 20-city composite fell by 0.7 percent in January from the January 2009 level.

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, commented on the report saying, “The report is mixed. While we continue to see improvements in the year-over-year data for all 20 cities, the rebound in housing prices seen last fall is fading. Fewer cities experienced month-to-month gains in January than in December 2009, on both a seasonally adjusted and unadjusted basis.”

Los Angeles and San Diege led the unadjusted price gains in January with rise of 0.9 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. Portland (-1.8%), Seattle (-1.7%) and Chicago (-1.7%) saw the largest price declines in January.

On an annual basis, San Francisco house prices have increased the most since January 2009 with a 9.0 percent advance with San Diego coming in next with a 5.9 percent rise. On the downside, Las Vegas remained the only area with a double digit annual decline at -17.9 percent annually while Detroit and Tampa were next in line with declines of 7.4 percent each.