The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had hit a four-year high in April, reversed course in May and fell 6.6 points. The Index now stands at 103.2. In April the Index stood at 109.8.

In addition, the Present Situation Index decreased to 132.5 from 136.2 and the Expectations Index fell to 83.7 from 92.3.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by TNS. TNS is the world's largest custom research company. The cutoff date for May's preliminary results was May 23rd.

“Apprehension about the short-term outlook for the economy, the labor market and consumers' earning potential has driven the Expectations Index down to levels not seen since the aftermath of the hurricanes last summer,” explains Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “In sharp contrast, consumers continue to rate current conditions favorably, although the Present Situation Index also lost ground this month. Looking ahead, the Expectations Index bears close watching, as it is often a harbinger of times to come.”

Consumers' overall assessment of current conditions eased but remains favorable. Consumers claiming conditions are “good” declined to 28.0 percent from 29.7 percent. Those claiming conditions are “bad” edged up to 15.4 percent from 15.1 percent. Labor market conditions also were less favorable. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 28.6 percent from 29.4 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 20.5 percent from 19.7 percent.

Consumers' outlook for the next six months, which improved moderately in April, turned pessimistic in May. Those expecting business conditions to worsen increased to 13.2 percent from 9.3 percent. Those expecting business conditions to improve decreased to 16.5 percent from 17.3 percent. The outlook for the labor market also was less optimistic. Those expecting more jobs to become available in the coming months decreased to 14.6 percent from 15.4 percent in April. Those expecting fewer jobs rose to 18.2 percent from 16.3 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating their incomes to increase in the months ahead declined to 16.6 percent from 18.0 percent.

The Conference Board