Once again, I don’t know what Wall Street is thinking – our economy is sucking wind.
Consumer confidence crumbled in April as rising gasoline prices undermined how Americans feel about the prospects for economic growth, a widely watched gauge of the economy showed on Tuesday.
The New York-based Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 104.0, in April, down from a revised 108.2 in March. Analysts had expected a reading of 105. The April reading was the lowest since August, when the index was at 100.2.
The Present Situation Index, which measures how shoppers feel now about economic conditions, decreased to 131.3 from 138.5 in March. The Expectations Index, which measures consumers’ outlook for the next six months, declined to 85.8 from 87.9.
“Unlike the decline in March, which was solely the result of apprehension about the short-term outlook, this month’s decline was a combination of weakening expectations and a less favorable assessment of present-day conditions,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement. “Rising prices at the gas pump continue to play a key role in dampening consumers’ short-term expectations.”
Existing home salesconfirm it.
Sales of existing homes plunged in March by the largest amount in nearly two decades, reflecting bad weather and increasing problems in the subprime mortgage market, a real estate trade group reported Tuesday.
The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes fell by 8.4 percent in March, compared to February. It was the biggest one-month decline since a 12.6 percent drop in January 1989, another period of recession conditions in housing. The drop left sales in March at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.12 million units, the slowest pace since June 2003.
The steep sales decline was accompanied by an eighth straight fall in median home prices, the longest such period of falling prices on record. The median price fell to $217,000, a drop of 0.3 percent from the price a year ago.
The fall in sales in March was bigger than had been expected and it dashed hopes that housing was beginning to mount a recovery after last year’s big slump. That slowdown occurred after five years in which sales of both existing and new homes had set records.
There was weakness in every part of the country in March. Sales fell by 10.9 percent in the Midwest. They were down 9.1 percent in the West, 8.2 percent in the Northeast and 6.2 percent in the South.