Markets

Consumer confidence tumbles in March as coronavirus cases surge

Key Points
  • The Conference Board said Tuesday its consumer confidence index dropped to 120 this month from 132.6 in February.
  • To be sure, the print was better than the 110 number economists polled by Dow Jones expected.
  • "Consumer confidence declined sharply in March due to a deterioration in the short-term outlook," Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement.
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Consumer confidence index hits 120.0 in March, vs. 110.0 expected

A measure of U.S. consumer confidence fell sharply in March as people grapple with the global coronavirus outbreak. 

The Conference Board said Tuesday its consumer confidence index dropped to 120 this month from 132.6 in February. To be sure, the print was better than the 110 number economists polled by Dow Jones expected.

"Consumer confidence declined sharply in March due to a deterioration in the short-term outlook," Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. "The intensification of COVID-19 and extreme volatility in the financial markets have increased uncertainty about the outlook for the economy and jobs. March's decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction – rather than a temporary shock – and further declines are sure to follow."

More than 800,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed globally, data from Johns Hopkins University shows. Of those cases, more than 164,000 are in the U.S. Italy also has over 100,000 confirmed cases. 

Countries around the world — including the U.S. — have taken measures to curb the spread of the virus. However, those actions raise concern over a potential economic blow and have sparked massive market volatility. 

Goldman Sachs economists expect the U.S. economy to contract by 34% in the second quarter and U.S. unemployment to surge to 15% before the fastest-ever recovery takes place. The S&P 500 has tumbled more than 20% from record levels seen in late February. 

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