US consumer confidence weakened in March, Reuters reports:
The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 107.2 in March, from a downwardly revised 111.2 the prior month, with rising gasoline prices and falling stock prices contributing to the slightly more pessimistic mood.
Weakness in housing is not helping.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller's home price index for 10 metropolitan areas released Tuesday fell 0.7 percent in the year to January. That was the first year-over-year drop in home values since January 1994...
Also Tuesday, No. 3 U.S. home builder Lennar Corp said declining home prices and the subprime lending crisis contributed to a 70 percent plunge in quarterly earnings.
Consumer spending, however, continues to hold up relatively well.
The International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS Securities reported chain store sales rose 0.2 percent last week from the previous week and were up 4.6 percent compared to the same week last year.
Meanwhile, Redbook Research said in its report that chain store sales were up 4.3 percent last week compared with a year earlier.
Meanwhile, Europe remains relatively optimistic. Bloomberg reports:
German business confidence unexpectedly rose this month, a sign Europe's largest economy has overcome a sales-tax increase and can withstand a U.S. slowdown.
The Munich-based Ifo institute said its sentiment index, based on responses from 7,000 executives, rose to 107.7 from 107 in February...
Italian business confidence fell in March as manufacturers anticipated a decline in demand for exports caused by the weakening U.S. economy, according to a survey released today by the Isae institute in Rome...
European consumer confidence may have risen to the highest level in six years in March, indicating domestic spending will buoy the region's expansion this year, a survey of economists showed. That report will be released on March 30. French business confidence rose in March to the highest in 11 months, a government report showed yesterday.
The Chinese must be feeling optimistic too. Retail sales rose 16.9 percent in February from the same month a year ago, according to a National Bureau of Statistics report yesterday. Also yesterday, the Shanghai Composite Index hit 3,138.826, setting a record high for the second straight day.