Consumer confidence falls in second quarter: Nielsen

LONDON Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:04pm IST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Consumer confidence fell in the second quarter from early this year as slowing employment growth and an escalating euro zone crisis made Americans more cautious about the economic outlook, a survey showed on Monday.

Consumer sentiment in the world's biggest economy fell by 5 points in the second quarter from the first quarter to 87, according to a quarterly survey by global information and insights company Nielsen, conducted May 4-21.

A reading below 100 indicates consumers are pessimistic about the economic outlook for the coming months.

Only 34 percent of Americans were optimistic about their job prospects for the next six months, compared with 38 percent in a survey in the first quarter, the survey showed. Thirty three percent said now was not a good time to buy things they needed, down from 38 percent in the first-quarter survey.

The poll, covering 500 online respondents in the United States, showed that confidence fell after rising in the two previous quarters although it was still higher than levels seen last year.

"Consumer uncertainty prevails with weak job gains, instability in global financial markets and continued budget issues at local, state and national government level," said Todd Hale, senior vice president of consumer and shopper insights, Nielsen.

Concern for the economy - the top concern for U.S. consumers - increased from the first quarter, with 42 percent of consumers citing the economy as their main concern, up from 40 percent in the previous survey.

Seventy eight percent of Americans believed the economy was in recession. That was down from 83 percent in the previous survey, but 56 percent of those who saw a recession in the latest survey expected the downturn to last at least another 12 months.

The U.S. economy has been losing more steam since May when the survey was taken. Manufacturing, which had been one of the strongest links in an otherwise frail economic recovery, grew in June at its slowest pace in 11 months, suggesting weaker overseas demand and the euro zone debt crisis may be starting to take a toll.

Job creation has also slowed and the Federal Reserve launched another round of monetary stimulus last week to try and stimulate the economy. A recent sharp fall in oil prices, by $35 from March highs to around $90 a barrel, offers some positive news for consumers but its impact will take time to factor through to households.

The U.S. consumer confidence survey is part of the global quarterly Nielsen Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, which tracks consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions in 56 countries. The global survey will be published in July.

(Editing by Toby Chopra)

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