US Consumer Confidence Falls In July To 80.3%, Lower Than Expected

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Consumers
Shoppers walk past a shop's sale signs while carrying shopping bags in New York in 2012.

U.S. consumer confidence fell to 80.3 in July, down from June's 82.1 level, below economists' forecast of 81.6, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The survey's Present Situation Index increased to 73.6 from 68.7, while the Expectations Index decreased to 84.7 from 91.1 last month. Still, confidence remains well above the levels of a year ago.

"Consumers' assessment of current conditions continues to gain ground, and expectations remain in expansionary territory despite the July retreat," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said. "Overall, indications are that the economy is strengthening and may even gain some momentum in the months ahead."

The Conference Board surveys about 5,000 households each month and asks respondents to rate the current and future economic conditions such as labor availability, business conditions and purchasing power.

The survey found that while consumers' appraisal of current economic conditions was good, their expectation for future conditions was less upbeat.

"The current conditions index continued to rise for the fourth month in a row," Amna Asaf, with Capital Economics, said. "This probably reflects the recent improvement in both the labor and housing markets."

Meanwhile, the expectations index was hit by the recent rebound in gasoline prices, up to $3.70 this week after staying close to $3.55 per gallon for the first two weeks of July.

"Even after the decline in July, the expectations index is still consistent with third-quarter consumption growth of more than 2 percent annualized, up from the estimated 1.5 percent gain in the second quarter," Asaf said.

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