Consumer confidence ticks up in October

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Americans got slightly more optimistic about the economy in October, but still have an overwhelmingly gloomy outlook, according to the latest reading on consumer morale.

The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 50.2 in October, up from 48.6 in September, the Conference Board, a New York-based research group that compiles the index, said Tuesday.

High unemployment and unfavorable business conditions have dragged the index down to a painfully low level, far below 90 -- the level which indicates a stable economy. Overall, the index has been volatile, not trending in any one direction for more than three months in a row this year.

"Consumer confidence, while slightly improved from September levels, is still hovering at historically low levels," Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center said in a release.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected the index to barely tick up to 49, so the news was a bit better than expected.

In October, the number of consumers calling business conditions "bad" outweighed those saying conditions are "good" by nearly five to one, slightly better than the month before, when that ratio was six to one.

Those saying jobs are "hard to get" rose, still far outnumbering those who say jobs are "plentiful."

Consumers continued to have a predominantly gloomy attitude about both future employment prospects and business conditions, but were slightly more optimistic on those fronts than last month.

The consumer confidence index is based on a survey of 5,000 U.S. households and is closely monitored because consumer spending drives two-thirds of the nation's economic activity.

A reading of 100 or greater would indicate strong growth, and the index has not reached that level since mid 2007.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,948.30 -12.27 -0.07%
Nasdaq 4,440.51 -9.05 -0.20%
S&P 500 1,975.88 -2.46 -0.12%
Treasuries 2.49 0.02 0.65%
Data as of 1:19pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 98.37 0.70 0.72%
Facebook Inc 74.96 -0.23 -0.31%
Dollar Tree Inc 55.84 1.62 2.99%
Family Dollar Stores... 75.74 15.09 24.87%
Bank of America Corp... 15.47 -0.12 -0.77%
Data as of 1:04pm ET

Sections

The SEC fines the Massachusetts gun maker for bribing officials when trying to secure sales contracts with overseas military and law enforcement agencies. More

New annual report from U.S. government shows the long-term prognosis for Medicare has improved thanks to slower health spending, while the outlook for Social Security remains unchanged. More

Actor-founded This Bar Saves Lives had Hollywood connections, but learned Start-Up 101 the hard way. More

Ali Ewoldt has performed in Broadway musicals and TV shows. Her days consist of auditions, rehearsals, and being on stage in front of hundreds of people at a time. Here are journal entries from a day in her life. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.