American consumers felt more confident this month, shrugging off a rocky stock market and heightened trade tensions between the United States and China.
The Conference Board, a business research group, says its consumer confidence index rose to 134.1 in May from 129.2 in April. The reading was the highest since November and above the more modest consensus forecast.
The index measures consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months. Both improved in May, providing a “positive sign for U.S. growth,” said CIBC economist Katherine Judge in emailed commentary.
In fact, Americans’ evaluation of today’s economy hit the highest level since December 2000. Their optimism reflects a healthy job market. The U.S. unemployment rate has dropped to 3.6%, near a 50-year low.
Judge noted that consumers’ plans to buy cars, homes and major appliances all increased.
Consumer spirits remained high even though the Dow Jones industrial average is down more than 3% this month, largely on worries about a U.S.-China trade war.