Consumer Confidence Remains Strong

The consumer confidence numbers from the University of Michigan and The Conference Board were mixed for the final June readings, while gas prices going into the Fourth of July holiday have been stable the past two weeks, according to the latest data from AAA.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline finished the week at $2.856 July 2. Prices are nearly 10 cents less than a month ago, thanks to falling crude oil prices and humming refineries.

But AAA warns prices could rise in the coming weeks and through September as the average price for a barrel of crude shot up to $74 late last week. While the OPEC countries decided last week to raise production somewhat, global demand remains very strong and traders are waiting to see if the increased supply helps fill demand. Meanwhile, U.S. demand for gasoline has been setting records and inventories continued to decline. Prices are 62 cents higher than a year ago. The group said earlier it expects the national gas price average to range between $2.85 and $3.05 through Labor Day.

The two major measures of consumer confidence were more or less flat in June. The UM Consumer Sentiment Index rose 0.2 point to 98.2 while The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell to 126.4 versus 128.8 in May. The CB’s index hit a record in April.

But the Expectations Indexes from both research groups fell during the month. Richard Curtin, UM’s Surveys of Consumers chief economist, cited worries about the impact of recent U.S. tariffs. “The potential impact of tariffs on the domestic economy was spontaneously cited by one in four consumers, with most expecting a negative impact,” he wrote in his monthly analysis. In a recent survey, the UM group found two-thirds of consumers believe “more trade with other countries would be better for the U.S. economy.” Fewer than one in five believe less trade would be better.

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