U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly deteriorated in December, hurt by increasing worries about the jobs market, according to a private report released on Tuesday.
KEY POINTS: * The Conference Board said its index of consumer attitudes slipped to 52.5 in December from an upwardly revised 54.3 in November. * The median of forecasts from analysts polled by Reuters was for a reading of 56.0. * The expectations index declined to 71.9 in December from 73.6 in November.
KEITH SPRINGER, SPRINGER FINANCIAL ADVISORS, SACRAMENTO,
People are getting affected emotionally. The rhetoric in Congress is wearing on people and is implying they can't get along and can't come to agreement. So people are believing they will force the country into a worse position.
On top of that, unemployment isn't dropping. You have a split between the haves and the have nots in this country. There's not a lot of in between.
Housing is another one wearing people down. Without strong housing collateral for banks, you really can't get a spur in economic growth to reduce unemployment.
I think the markets are strong. You can work out an overbought condition with this sideways movement. It's a very positive sign.
SEAN INCREMONA, ECONOMIST, 4CAST LTD, NEW YORK:
It was contrary to some of the other sentiment indexes we've seen this month with the slippage compared to some other improvements, but this index is very sensitive to employment and with an elevated unemployment rate and such its going to be hard for consumers to get too optimistic at this point in the game.
PETER CARDILLO, CHIEF MARKET ECONOMIST, AVALON PARTNERS, NEW
Consumer confidence coming down was a bit disappointing. It certainly didn't interfere with the holiday spending, but I guess the high rate of employment is on the minds of the consumers. Overall, it was a negative surprise but it's not impacting the market so much due to the light volume and lack of activity in the market today.
PETER KENNY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, KNIGHT EQUITY MARKETS, JERSEY
CITY, NEW JERSEY:
Everybody has done what they need to do, the money that has been put in place has been put in place until the end of the year, meaning there will be no significant shift in trend or in strategy from here until the end of the year. Right now we are at the tail end of the year and no one is really placing any large bets in a market that is relatively illiquid.
There is really nothing out there that is different than what expectations are. What we are seeing is very much in line with expectations and as a result the pricing has already been built into the market and institutions are very hesitant to do anything at this stage of the year.
KATHY LIEN, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, GFT FOREX, NEW YORK:
Risk appetite was really hanging by a thread, the dollar was slightly lower, but because of the weak home price survey and the prospect of a disappointment in consumer confidence, you did see investors start to buy dollars ahead of the data. As much as investors want to deny it, there are still lingering concerns about the impact of Europe's debt crisis, about a sluggish U.S. recovery and about Chinese rate hikes. Those lingering concerns are affecting the market, and the consumer data shows that U.S. consumers are still worried about high unemployment, housing market stagnation and the generally meager growth they've seen so far.
JAKE DOLLARHIDE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, LONGBOW ASSET
MANAGEMENT, TULSA, OKLAHOMA:
I think this is one step toward showing that a full economic recovery is right around the corner, even though it was weaker than expected. Year-over-year, or from the previous quarter, a lot has transpired that gives us confidence going into 2011. Those who take the view that it was weaker than expected, that's a myopic, short-sighted view. There's a lot to be excited about. I can see the S&P ending up for the day, though there's so little volume this week. I think we're poised for a strong, double-digit 2011, and I think we'll see better numbers going into the first and second quarter of 2011.
MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock indexes hold flat BONDS: U.S. Treasury bond prices hold losses FOREX: The dollar holds losses