Consumer confidence pulls back slightly in March

New York -- The Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index pulled back slightly in March, to 70.2, down from 71.6 in February.

"Consumer Confidence pulled back slightly in March, after rising sharply in February,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “The moderate decline was due solely to a less favorable short-term outlook, while consumers’ assessment of current conditions, on the other hand, continued to improve.”

The Present Situation Index increased to 51.0 from 46.4, its highest level in three and a half years. The results, Franco said, suggest that despite this month's dip in confidence, consumers feel the economy is not losing momentum.

The Expectations Index declined to 83.0 from 88.4 in February as consumers became less optimistic about the short-term outlook. The proportion of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 19.2% from 18.9%. However, those anticipating business conditions will worsen also rose, to 13.5% from 11.8%.