Consumer confidence steadies in July

Shoppers check out at a Target store in Falls Church, Virginia.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Shoppers check out at a Target store in Falls Church, Virginia.

Consumers were feeling a bit more optimistic than expected in July, as a key economic indicator held gains from June, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

The Consumer Confidence Index hit 97.3 in July, The Conference Board said. Economists expected consumer confidence to fall to 95.8 in July, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

June's consumer confidence reading was revised down to to 97.4 from 98.

The survey, a closely followed barometer of consumer attitudes, measures sentiment toward business conditions, short-term outlook, personal finances and jobs.

"Consumers were slightly more positive about current business and labor market conditions, suggesting the economy will continue to expand at a moderate pace," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. "Expectations regarding business and labor market conditions, as well as personal income prospects, declined slightly as consumers remain cautiously optimistic about growth in the near-term."

Consumers were split on current economic conditions for July, but their outlook improved slightly overall. A larger share of consumers — 28.1 percent contrasted with last month's 26.8 percent — said that business conditions were good, though the share that said conditions were bad also increased slightly, moving to 19 percent from last month's 18.3 percent.

There was also split response on future income predictions from consumers. About 16.6 percent of consumers expect their incomes to increase, a smaller share than the 18.2 percent last month. But only 10.8 percent expect a decline in their income, down from 11.3 percent.

Attitudes toward the current labor market were relatively steady, and the outlook for future job growth was marginally more favorable, The Conference Board said.