WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Consumer confidence dipped in February for the first time since October, after hitting an all-time high in January.
The Consumer Confidence Index for the month, released Tuesday by the Conference Board, dropped to 141.8 from 144.7 in January. Last February's index measured 133.1. Consumer confidence slumped last October, when it was 130.5, but had steadily risen since then.
Analysts said the drop, primarily a result of rising interest rates and higher gas prices, was expected and doesn't signal a threatening decline in confidence.
"The bottom line is we're still at extremely high levels of confidence. We cannot disregard the impact of this high level and the momentum it brings to consumer spending," said Larry Horowitz, senior economist with Primark Decision Economics, Boston. "We're at such high levels that it would take quite a bit of worsening to eat into the confidence consumers are feeling right now."
Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center, New York, said, "Consumer attitudes will bear watching over the next few months to gauge the impact of rising interest rates and relatively high gas prices. As for now, the Index is signaling further economic growth ahead."
Franco said February's drop was due to declines in consumers' expectations for the next six months.
Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term business outlook. The survey's Expectations Index, which measures consumer confidence for the next six months, dropped to 115.5 in February, from 119.1 in January.
The percentage of consumers expecting conditions to worsen in the next six months increased to 4.7% from 3.5%. Only 17.6% expect business conditions to get better, down from 20% in January. About 15% of those surveyed expect more jobs to become available in the next six months, down from 16.5% in January, while only 25.3% expect incomes to increase, down from 26.6% in January.
The Present Situation Index, which measures consumers' immediate economic expectations, dipped to 181.1 from 183.1 last month. Of those surveyed, 46.2% described business conditions as "good," down from 47.3% in January. About 8.8% said business is "bad," up from 8.3% last month.