Consumer confidence in the U.S. unexpectedly saw a continued improvement in the month of September, according to a report released by the Conference Board on Tuesday.
The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index climbed to 138.4 in September from an upwardly revised 134.7 in August.
Economists had expected the consumer confidence index to drop to 131.7 from the 133.4 originally reported for the previous month.
With the unexpected increase, the consumer confidence index reached a new 18-year high and is not far from the all-time high of 144.7 reached in 2000.
“These historically high confidence levels should continue to support healthy consumer spending, and should be welcome news for retailers as they begin gearing up for the holiday season,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board.
The unexpected improvement in consumer confidence came as optimism about the short-term outlook improved considerably, with the expectations index surging up to 115.3 in September from 109.3 in August.
The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions will improve over the next six months increased to 27.6 percent from 24.4 percent, while those expecting conditions will worsen dipped to 8.0 percent from 9.9 percent.
Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat, as the proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead rose to 22.5 percent from 21.5 percent and those anticipating fewer jobs fell to 11.0 percent from 13.2 percent.
The Conference Board also said the present situation index inched up to 173.1 in September from 172.8 in August, suggesting consumers’ assessment of current conditions held steady.
The percentage of consumers saying business conditions are “good” ticked up to 41.4 percent from 40.5 percent, while those saying conditions are “bad” edged down to 9.1 percent from 9.3 percent.
Consumers claiming jobs are “plentiful” climbed to 45.7 percent from 42.3 percent, but those claiming jobs are “hard to get” also rose to 13.2 percent from 12.1 percent.
On Friday, the University of Michigan is scheduled to release its revised report on consumer sentiment in the month of September.