Economic Report: U.S. consumer confidence rises for first time in 2022, but inflation and Ukraine still big worries

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The numbers: A survey of consumer confidence rose to 107.2 in March and increased for the first time in 2022, but Americans are still uneasy about high inflation and the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast the index to total in 107.5 in March.

The February reading was revised down to 105.7 from an original 110.5, The Conference Board said Tuesday,

Confidence deteriorated last fall after the delta and omicron viral outbreaks. Now rising inflation and the war in Ukraine are adding to angst.

What’s kept confidence from plunging even further to new pandemic lows is a strong labor market. Workers have leverage over companies for the first time in decades, resulting in more people switching jobs and earning higher pay.

Big picture: The U.S. economy is still expanding at a steady pace, but the headwinds are growing.

For one thing, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates for the first time in four years to combat high inflation.

Fresh Covid lockdowns in China and the Russian attack on Ukraine, meanwhile, threaten to further disrupt global supply chains and and worsen shortages in the U.S. that have sparked the surge in inflation.

The strong labor market is the economy’s protective shield. As long as Americans feel secure in their jobs the U.S. is likely to remain on the path to recovery.

Market reaction: In early trades, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.59%

and S&P 500
SPX,
+0.41%

rose sharply in Tuesday trades on hopes of a resolution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

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