U.S. consumer confidence rebounds in April, boosted by solid increase in expectations for the future, according to RBC CASH Index



    NEW YORK, April 9 /CNW/ - Reversing seven months of crumbling confidence,
Americans' economic enthusiasm rallied this month, according to the most
recent results of the RBC CASH (Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household)
Index, which posted its first significant improvement since September 2008.
Overall consumer confidence advanced 30.1 points, bringing the RBC CASH Index
to 38.3 in April, compared to 8.2 in March. Consumer sentiment was bolstered
by a 58.3 point increase in Americans' expectations for the future. Americans'
attitudes about current conditions and investing also increased in the past
month, but they continue to worry about jobs.
    "The April readings provide more evidence of a stabilization in consumer
spending," said Larry Miller, managing director, RBC Capital Markets.
"Stabilization does not mean recovery, but is a far better prospect than the
free fall of late last year. Whether this translates into an improvement in
consumer spending is another ball game, and one that is far too early to
call."
    The RBC CASH Index is a monthly national survey of consumer attitudes on
the current and future state of local economies, personal finance situations,
savings and confidence to make large investments. The Index is composed of
four sub-indices: RBC Current Conditions Index; RBC Expectations Index; RBC
Investment Index; and, RBC Jobs Index. The Index is benchmarked to a baseline
of 100 assigned at its introduction in January 2002. This month's findings are
based on a representative nationwide sample of 1,000 U.S. adults polled from
April 2 - 6, 2009, by survey-based research company Ipsos Public Affairs. The
margin of error was +/-3.1 per cent.

    
    Highlights of the survey results include:

    -   Advancing out of negative territory for the first time in 2009, the
        RBC Expectations Index increased 58.3 points to 32.4 from its -25.9
        reading in March. The shift in the index is due largely to an
        improvement in Americans' expectations for their local economy and
        personal financial situation. In April, nearly four-in-ten consumers
        (39 per cent) believe their community's economy will be stronger in
        the next month, compared to 30 per cent in March, while only 21 per
        cent believe it will continue to weaken, compared to 30 per cent last
        month. In addition, only 13 per cent of Americans expect their
        personal financial situation to weaken over the next six months,
        compared to 18 per cent in March.

    -   The RBC Current Conditions Index improved markedly in April to 35.8,
        compared to 14.8 in March. This is the second consecutive month of
        gains in the RBC Current Conditions Index and the largest month-to-
        month increase in current conditions since September 2006.
        Americans' assessments of their current personal financial situation
        as weak dropped to 30 per cent this month, compared to 35 per cent in
        March. In addition, this month only 41 per cent of consumers rate
        their current local economic conditions as weak, compared to 47 per
        cent last month.

    -   Consumers' overall opinions regarding investing improved
        significantly this month sending the RBC Investment Index to a
        reading of 44.8, up 20.2 points from 24.6 in March. The increase in
        the index is being driven by improving attitudes toward stock and
        real estate investments. Consumers reporting that the next 30 days
        will be a bad time to invest in the stock market dropped to 61 per
        cent, down from 70 per cent last month. More than half of consumers
        (51 per cent) believe the next month will be a good time to buy real
        estate, compared to 43 per cent in March. This month is the first
        time a majority of Americans think real estate is a good investment
        since the housing bubble became apparent in 2005.

    -   After dropping for six consecutive months, the RBC Jobs Index edged
        up 4.4 points in April to 45.2, compared to 40.8 last month. Although
        consumers continue to be peppered with bad news on the jobs front,
        Americans' confidence regarding overall job security held steady, but
        remains very low. This month, the share of consumers who are more
        confident in their job security now than they were six months ago
        held steady at 19 per cent, compared to 18 per cent in March. In
        addition, 37 per cent of Americans say it is likely that they or
        someone they know will lose their job in the next six months,
        compared to 39 per cent last month.
    

    The entire RBC CASH Index report can be viewed at:
www.rbc.com/newsroom/rbc-cash-index.html.





For further information:

For further information: Loretta A. Healy, The Hubbell Group, Inc.,
(781) 878-8882; Kevin Foster, RBC, (212) 428-6902


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