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Consumer Confidence Blips - Take a Breath, & Think it Through

Having allowed enough time for the dust to settle after Tuesday’s stunning announcement that consumer confidence had plunged, we can now step up to the podium and offer a little, less-hysterical perspective…. something the media failed to do.

Yes, the Conference Board’s key measure of consumer confidence fell from January’s score of 56.5 to 46.0 this month. Not good. On the other hand, it’s not the killer the media is making it out to be.

Remember, though it’s supposed to indicate presumptions about the future, in reality, it measures feeling about the current - and recent past - situation. The market has tanked since January, and jobs haven’t really become more abundant. Of course consumers are going to move their confidence scores a little further down the scale. One month, however, does not make a trend.

On the other hand, all trends start with the first move.

The reality is, we can’t yet worry about this blip…. mainly because we’ve seen them before, many of which didn’t disrupt a bigger trend. A couple of those instances are market with red arrows on the chart below.

As we’ve stated numerous times before, this data is meaningless month-to-month, as it’s too erratic. The only data we can use - and the only data anybody should - is the moving average line (red) of the consumer confidence figure. This is the line that shows the true trend, and the only one that has a strong correlation with market performance.

Yes, we’re cautious of the decline, but for the same reason we didn’t get giddy when it surged last March, we’re not going to despair now. We’ll make a note of it, and move on to other things. A month from now, we’ll update the chart and make another educated decision.

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