Saturday, November 14, 2009

Watching Consumer Confidence

As I noted in an earlier post on March 9th of this year, consumer confidence tends to lag the stock market by about 2-3 months. The Conference Board's consumer confidence index reported its second monthly decline at the end of October. Since the confidence index tends to lag the market by several months, it is not surprising to see this confidence drop in October. October was a down month for the S&P 500 Index with the index closing at 1,036 versus September's close of 1,057.

Friday's preliminary release of the Reuters - University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers similarly saw an October decline in confidence as well to 69.4 versus September's 73.5. One positive is the S&P 500 Index is up 5.66% so far in November. A big negative impacting confidence is the level of the unemployment rate at 10.2% and seemingly continuing to move higher.

As the below chart of the S&P 500 Index shows, the market is struggling to break resistance at the 1,100 level. The weak attempt to move through this 1,100 level is evidenced by the declining volume.

The White House and Congress may finally be seeing that its spending binge is weighing on the market and consumers. A recent article on Politico notes the White House may focus on deficits "after voting for the stimulus, the bailouts, the health care legislation and a plan to address global warming, four enormous government programs. Obama has spent more money on new programs in nine months than Bill Clinton did in eight years, pushing the annual deficit to $1.4 trillion. This leaves little room for big spending initiatives." Let's only hope so.

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