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Consumer spending in 2018

Thursday, February 01, 2018

WASHINGTON - US consumer confidence rebounded in January and house prices increased further in November, suggesting that a recent acceleration in consumer spending was likely to be sustained despite sluggish wage growth.

Robust consumer confidence and rising household wealth as a result of record gains on the US stock market and rising house prices have left Americans less fearful about the future. That is encouraging some to dip into their savings to fund purchases.

"More confident US consumers point to stronger spending as the year begins," said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index increased 2.3 points to a reading of 125.4 this month.

But consumers were less upbeat in their assessment of current conditions. They were also ambivalent about their income prospects over the coming months, which the survey attributed to "some uncertainty regarding the impact of the tax plan."

The Trump administration and the Republican-controlled US Congress pushed through a $US1.5 trillion ($F3t) tax cut package last month. While many Americans will see an increase in their paychecks, taxes will increase for some middle-income families.

The survey's so-called labour market differential, derived from data about respondents who think jobs are hard to get and those who think jobs are plentiful, rose to a cycle high of 21.2 in January from 20.3 in December.

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