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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® improved to 91.3 in February (1985=100), after increasing to 88.9 in January. The Present Situation Index— a measure of consumer sentiment for current business and labor market conditions—rose from 85.5 to 92.0. However, the Expectations Index— a measure of consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions— came in at 90.8 in February, down from 91.8 the previous month. The percentage of consumers who said that jobs were plentiful rose to a three-month high of 21.9%. In addition, fewer respondents said jobs were hard to get, declining from 21.2% to 22.5%. Consumers remain cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the coming months. Notably, vacation plans, especially related to travel outside the U.S. saw an uptick.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in his Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress indicated the Economy has a long way to go to return to full employment, even as there are reasons for cautious optimism for a recovery this year. The Fed Chair indicated that those especially hit by the downturn include lower-wage earners and minority groups. Powell reiterated the Fed’s commitment to an accommodative policy with quantitative easing until there is maximum employment that is “broad and inclusive”. The Fed does not anticipate an economic recovery accompanied by strong inflation. However, Powell stated in his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee “If it does turn out that unwanted inflation pressures arise and they’re persistent, then we have the tools to address that, and we will.”
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported the real gross domestic product (GDP) for Q4 2020 came in at 4.1%, a 0.1% uptick over the preliminary figure announced in January. While exports, nonresidential fixed investment, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), residential fixed investment, and private inventory investment saw an increase, they were partly offset by a decrease in government spending. Comparing 2020 to 2019 the report showed: Real GDP decreased 3.5% as compared to 2.2%, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.2% as compared to 1.6%, the PCE price index increased 1.2% as compared to 1.5%, and excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.4% as compared to 1.7%.
Monday March 1 – ISM Manufacturing PMI (Feb)
Friday March 5 – Unemployment Rate (Feb)