US consumer confidence rises again in September

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — American consumers were feeling more confident again this month, good news for the U.S. economy.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose again to 103 in September after surging in August to 101.3. The September reading was the highest since January. Economists had expected the index to fall this month.

Consumers' assessment of present economic conditions hit the highest level in eight years. More than 25 percent of Americans said jobs were plentiful, highest share since September 2007.

Expectations for the future fell slightly. Compared to August, however, a bigger share of Americans said they were planning to buy cars and homes over the next six months.

The U.S. economy is looking healthy. Economic growth came in at a 3.9 percent annual rate from April through June, and unemployment has dropped to a seven-year low 5.1 percent.

But worries about an economic slowdown in China and other emerging markets have rattled financial markets.

"The surprising improvement in confidence suggests that the recent international turbulence has had little impact on consumers' domestic confidence," economist Bricklin Dwyer of BNP Paribas wrote in a research note. "We expect consumption to continue to expand at a solid pace throughout the end of 2015."

Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Still, another gauge of consumers' spirits — the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index — fell this month to the lowest level in almost a year. Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Michigan survey, blamed the drop on worries that troubles overseas will hurt hiring and wages in the United States.