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Consumer expectations moderate.

NEW YORK -- Consumer confidence, as measured by The Conference Board's consumer confidence index, declined to a seasonally adjusted 94.2 last month from 96.1 in March. The decline negated nearly all of March's gain over the February level of 94, The Conference Board reported.

The index is based upon the monthly consumer confidence survey conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of consumer information and analytics.

"Consumers' assessment of current conditions improved, suggesting no slowing in economic growth. However, their expectations regarding the short term have moderated, suggesting they do not foresee any pickup in momentum," observed Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, a nonprofit business membership and research organization based in New York.

For their part, economic researchers with the University of Michigan also detected a weakening of consumer sentiment in April. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for April was 89, down from 91 in March and the lowest level since September.

Consumers' top concerns involve whether the anticipated slowdown in economic growth will lead to slower income and job gains, as well as uncertainty about economic policies depending on the outcome of November's elections, according to University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin, who directs the survey.

"The retreat from the 2015 peaks was evident across a wide range of expectations about prospects for the national economy," Curtin explained. "The size of the decline, while troublesome, is still far short of indicating an impending recession. The decline is all the more remarkable given that consumers' assessments of current economic conditions, including their personal finances, have remained largely unchanged at very positive levels during the past year. This divergence may reflect the strength of the consumer relative to the business sectors, and may be exacerbated by growing uncertainty about the economic policies advocated by various presidential candidates."

The latest data from the University of Michigan suggest inflation-adjusted personal consumption expenditures will grow by 2.5% in 2016, Curtin noted.

Researchers with the university's Institute for Social Research have been monitoring consumer attitudes and expectations for 70 years. The April reading of consumer confidence at 89 was higher than the average of 85.8 from 1952 until the start of 2016.

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Title Annotation:Annual Report: INDUSTRY OVERVIEW
Date:May 23, 2016
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