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US Economic Confidence Tumbles Back Into Negative Territory As "Hope" Fades

With economic data serially disappointing in 2015, it is probably not entirely surprising that Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index fell to an average of -2 last week (with the biggest drop since July). This is the first time the index has had a negative weekly average since late December. Both the current conditions and outlook sub-indices tumbled but it was the future 'hope' index that fell the most with more people now saying the future will be 'poor' than believe it will be 'good'.

 

As Gallup reports, the U.S. Economic Confidence Index fell to an average of -2 for the week ending Feb. 22

This is the first time the index has had a negative weekly average since late December. Prior to that, the index had consistently been in negative territory since Gallup began tracking it daily in 2008.

 

 

The Economic Confidence Index fell five points from the week prior, the largest drop since July. The weekly index numbers are usually fairly stable, not changing more than a couple of points unless there is some significant event. It is not clear what is behind last week's decline in confidence, although quickly rising gas prices last week may have played a role -- given that the drop in gas prices coincided with the rise in confidence in late 2014. The index had more or less leveled off in early 2015 before this decline.

 

Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans rate current economic conditions and whether they say the economy is getting better or getting worse. Last week, both components dropped from the prior week, falling into negative territory.

 

 

For the week ending Feb. 22, 27% of Americans said the economy was "excellent" or "good," while 29% said it was "poor." This resulted in a current conditions score of -2, compared with +2 the week prior. Meanwhile, the economic outlook score also was -2, the result of 47% of Americans saying the economy is "getting better" while 49% said it is "getting worse." The economic outlook score is down from +3 the previous week.

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Suddenly higher gas prices? Cold weather? Stagnant wages? Higher Disneyworld prices? We assume those surveyed have not been watching CNBC and looking at their 401(k)s...