In the latest bit of mildly positive economic news, consumer confidence increased in August, according to the Conference Board. Its index rose to 53.5 from a slightly upwardly revised 51.0 in July. That was better than the 50.0 that economist expected and reverses the downward trend beginning to form over the prior two months. Confidence still has far to go, however.
First, here's the chart for the trailing twelve months:
You can see that, had confidence continued to decline in August, then it would have begun flirting with its 12-month low. Its rise in August was pretty small, and not large enough to surpass the index's value of 54.5 recorded a year earlier. This shows that in the past twelve months, consumer sentiment has been virtually unchanged. That's a pretty sour verdict for the so-called recovery.
The Conference Board's other sentiment-related indicators shed a little light onto the change in confidence. Americans actually felt their present situation was worse in August, with that index declining to 24.9 from 26.4 last month. Yet they're more optimistic about the future, with the Expectations Index increasing moderately to 72.5 from 67.5 in July. So even though Americans felt their economic situation was worse in August, they expect it to get better.