Finally, an upswing.
Floridians' confidence in the economy and their own finances rose in February, one month after hitting a 16-year low. But the surge is likely to be temporary, University of Florida researchers said Tuesday.
UF's Bureau of Economic Research identified two likely reasons behind the confidence boost: Congress' passage of a federal stimulus package that will include tax rebates worth billions of dollars, and Florida voters' recent approval of a property tax relief amendment.
Chris McCarty, who directs the bureau's survey research center, said in a news release that he expects Floridians' confidence to resume declining in March. The effects of the stimulus package and property tax relief will likely be short-lived, he said. Moreover, the Federal Reserve Board's reduction in short-term interest rates, while perhaps emboldening lenders, has "further weakened the dollar against other currencies." That, he said, has boosted the price of gas and other imports.
Nationwide, consumer confidence continued falling in February. The Conference Board said Tuesday that the U.S. index hit a 15-year low, excluding a period during the Iraq war in 2003.