Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Business

Florida consumer confidence down again for third month

Consumer confidence in Florida fell for the third month in a row in April, according to a University of Florida survey released Tuesday. Florida's drop contrasts with steady confidence levels across much of the rest of the country.

UF's monthly telephone survey showed all five measurements of consumer confidence falling with the biggest drop — 4 percentage points — in consumer expectations of where their personal finances will be a year from now.

The past two years, the national economy showed vigor in the beginning of the year before sagging in springtime. Last year, consumer confidence faltered in the spring as well.

"While we are in some ways repeating the pattern from last year, the levels of consumer confidence among Floridians are higher overall," said Chris McCarty, survey director within UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Last April, Florida's index was at 68 compared to 73 this month.

McCarty said a slight uptick in jobs and rise in home prices is helping, but rising gas prices loom as a negative.

The index is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year.

Nationally, Americans' confidence in the economy held steady in April, according to the Conference Board, a private research group.

The national consumer confidence index now stands at 69.2, down slightly from a revised 69.5 in March. Economists were expecting a reading of 70, according to a FactSet poll of analysts. The index peaked this year in February at 71.6.

Economists closely track trends in consumer confidence because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of all economic activity.

Times wires contributed to this report.

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