Market volatility or not, new long-term highs are the continuing story of the consumer confidence index which jumped to 130.8 in February to easily beat Econoday's consensus and also top the high estimate. Only 14.7 percent of the sample say jobs are currently hard to get which is down noticeably from 16.3 percent in January and points to acceleration for the February employment report. The sample's outlook for the labor market also continues to rise with 21.6 percent, nearly 3 percentage points higher than January, seeing more jobs opening up six months from now.
Market gyrations however are taking their toll on the sample's bullishness with only 41.3 percent now seeing stocks moving higher over the next six months for a nearly 10 point monthly decline. The bears are now at 27.4 percent, which is up nearly 7 points.
Inflation expectations are up 1 tenth to 4.7 percent which, however, is very subdued for this reading. A look at component readings shows similar strength between the present assessment and the future outlook, at 162.4 for a 7.7 point gain and 109.7 for a 5.7 point gain, respectively.
Enormous strength in consumer confidence has been a standout feature of the economic data, in some contrast however with consumer spending where strength has been tangible but more limited. If the stock market begins to calm down, it will be interesting to see whether this report actually begins to accelerate further. Watch on Friday for final February consumer sentiment data which, though running less hot than this report, did jump sharply at mid-month.