Thursday, April 26, 2018
Business

Florida consumer confidence rises for third month in a row

Floridians increasingly are feeling good about where the national economy is headed over the next five years, a new survey shows.

That's a big reason why the state's consumer confidence index rose for the third straight month, hitting a level last seen in August 2007, before the onset of the Great Recession.

The statewide measure of consumer confidence rose 2 points in May to 81, dramatically higher than two years ago when it dipped into the low 60s, according to the University of Florida's monthly survey. That mirrors a rise in consumer confidence in a national report also released Tuesday.

Florida's index is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest possible score is a 2; the highest is 100.

Three of the five components that make up the Florida index increased in the latest telephone poll. Those surveyed were more optimistic that their own personal finances will improve over the next year (up 3 points) and that the national economy is on the upswing this year (up 2 points). They were particularly bullish in trusting the national economy will be better within five years, with that measure jumping 8 points to 85.

That helped offset a drop in respondents who felt better off financially than a year ago (down 3 points). The gauge of whether this is a good time to buy a big-ticket item also dropped by 1 point.

Consumers have been encouraged by a stream of positive news: home prices continue to rise; the stock market has rebounded to new highs; new home construction is picking up; and Florida's unemployment rate has steadily fallen to reach a near five-year low of 7.2 percent.

"As the headlines turn to news other than budget cuts and possible changes to Social Security, consumer confidence improves for Floridians," said survey director Chris McCarty of UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. "This is especially true for seniors."

The report was released the same day the Conference Board research firm reported that national consumer confidence jumped to a five-year high.

An improving job market helped fuel the national index's rise to 76.2 in May, its highest reading since February 2008.

"Back-to-back monthly gains suggest that consumer confidence is on the mend and may be regaining traction it lost due to the fiscal cliff, payroll tax hike and sequester," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board.

However, there is some concern the confidence boost won't last.

McCarty, the UF researcher, said he expects the state index will stay unchanged or pull back slightly this summer as consumers feel the delayed effects of federal budget cuts. "For now, optimism among Floridians is growing," he said.

Home prices continue to climb in March

The United States experienced another round of broad-based home price gains in March, reinforcing the housing recovery's important role in driving economic growth. All 20 cities tracked by the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price index posted year-over-year gains, as they have done for three consecutive months now. The 20-city composite index rose 10.9 percent over the past year. That is the biggest annual increase since April 2006. Several cities — Charlotte, N.C.; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Tampa — had their largest month-over-month gains in more than seven years.

Comments
Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian American restaurants serve cat and dog

Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian American restaurants serve cat and dog

A strange thing happened when typing "dog menu" into the restaurant ratings website and app Yelp. It automatically generated suggested searches. There were dog massage, hot dogs, pet groomers. Also: "dog meat." But it got more disturbing. Take Yelp...
Updated: 10 hours ago
As more emotional support animals fly on U.S. airlines, Congress eyes new ways to tighten the leash

As more emotional support animals fly on U.S. airlines, Congress eyes new ways to tighten the leash

WASHINGTON — With hundreds of thousands of emotional support animals taking to the skies on U.S. airlines, Congress may start pulling a tighter leash.Two new legislative options emerged this week to address a hairy issue for American Airlines, Southw...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Duke Energy announces new Florida leadership

Duke Energy announces new Florida leadership

ST. PETERSBURG — The head of Duke Energy Florida is leaving his post to take a new role with the utility’s parent company June 1, the company announced on Wednesday.Harry Sideris, 47, was appointed this week to serve as vice president and chief distr...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Comcast challenges Murdoch with rival bid for U.K.-based Sky

LONDON — U.S. media giant Comcast on Wednesday offered $30.7 billion for Sky PLC, topping a bid from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and setting up a bidding war for Britain’s biggest satellite TV company.Comcast said it would pay approximately $17...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Pasco County

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Pasco County

TRINITY — Pasco County will be getting its first Sprouts Farmers Market, the organic grocery chain announced Wednesday. The new store will open at the Village at Mitchell Ranch on State Road 54 and Little Road. Officials with the speciality st...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Circle K launching own gas at eight Hillsborough locations

Circle K launching own gas at eight Hillsborough locations

TAMPA — Circle K is converting the gas station portion of eight of its Hillsborough locations to Circle K fuel. Previously, the fuel was provided by other brands, such as Shell. The new Circle K branding also brings with it the Canadian-owned conveni...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Florida leads other hurricane-prone states in quality of its building codes

Florida leads other hurricane-prone states in quality of its building codes

Florida has the strongest residential building codes among 18 coastal states, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. Florida’s rating is 95, almost three times higher than lowest-ranked Texas. Other states wit...
Published: 04/25/18
Study: Tampa Bay homes in once ‘redlined’ neighborhoods worth half those in other areas

Study: Tampa Bay homes in once ‘redlined’ neighborhoods worth half those in other areas

Times staffRedlining’ — banks’ refusal to make mortgage loans in certain areas — still has a huge effect on housing values even though the practice was banned 50 years ago. According to Zillow, a Tampa Bay house in a once-redlined area is worth less ...
Published: 04/25/18
Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

NOW OPEN: TEX-MEX CHAIN CHUY’SThe Austin, Texas-based Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opened its first Tampa restaurant on Tuesday, giving away free Chuy’s for two for a year to the first 50 customers. I know, we missed it, it’s a bummer, but we can still visit...
Published: 04/25/18
Clearwater looks to move out of City Hall to speed up Imagine Clearwater waterfront redevelopment

Clearwater looks to move out of City Hall to speed up Imagine Clearwater waterfront redevelopment

CLEARWATER — Elected officials have talked about relocating City Hall from the downtown bluff for a good 30 years. Now there’s a jolt of urgency to actually do it.Voters backed a referendum in November that essentially greenlighted the $55 million re...
Published: 04/25/18