Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly increased in August as Americans grew more optimistic about the prospects for the world’s largest economy.
Bloomberg reported that the Conference Board’s index of sentiment advanced to 81.5 from a revised 81 the prior month that was stronger than initially estimated, the New York-based private research group reported today. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists was 79.
Sustained job growth and increased wealth tied to higher home values and stock portfolios are helping to sustain the household spending, boosting automakers and home-improvement retailers such as Lowe’s Cos. Today’s report showed more Americans expected a pickup in employment opportunities and income gains in the next six months.
“The household sector is still improving and a lot of that improvement comes from home prices,” said Sam Coffin, an economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. UBS Securities is the top forecaster of the Conference Board’s index in the last two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Estimates for consumer confidence ranged from 74.3 to 82 in the Bloomberg survey of 71 economists after an initial July reading of 80.3. The measure averaged 53.7 during the recession that ended in June 2009. The cutoff date for the Conference Board’s survey was Aug. 15.