Consumer Confidence Hits Five-Year High in May, Bear Market Signs in Long Treasuries

Angry growling bear
Angry growling bear

Tuesday may have seen a weak Chicago Fed report, but the Conference Board has released a more-current reading measuring consumer confidence for the month of May. This came in sharply higher at 76.2, versus a prior revision of 69.0 and versus a Bloomberg consensus reading of 71.5. Confidence was higher than all economist projections, as well as the Bloomberg range was 69.0 to 74.0. What may really stand out here is that confidence is suddenly back at five-year highs.

A release being titled "The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index Improves in May" may be a gross understatement when you consider how much higher this is compared to estimates and to the prior report. The Conference Board showed that the Present Situation Index rose handily to a level of 66.7 in May from 61.0 in April. The Expectations Index also rose handily to 82.4 in May from 74.3 in April. Note that the cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 15.

The Conference Board said:

Consumers' assessment of current business and labor-market conditions was more positive and they were considerably more upbeat about future economic and job prospects. Back-to-back monthly gains suggest that consumer confidence is on the mend and may be regaining the traction it lost due to the fiscal cliff, payroll-tax hike, and sequester.

It is one thing to say that the S&P 500 is up 22 points at 1,672 and that the DJIA is up 198 points at 15,501. Neither reading is yet at an all-time high. What is at a new 2013 high is the yield on the 10-year Treasury, which is up at 2.075%. This matches a March 14 high of 2.07% and is challenging a high yield of 2.09% from March 8. Prior to this, the highest yields on the 10-year of late have been 2.28% in April of 2012 and 2.40% in March of 2012.

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