What's this all about? Are the liberals becoming awake?
California’s shoppers appear to be warming to a Donald Trump presidency.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for California rose in December to its highest level since October 2007.
This was the first month the continuous polling that tracks shoppers optimism in eight big states and across the nation had fully reflected Trump’s upset win in the November presidential election. Exit polling showed the economy’s future was a major decision-changing topic for presidential voters across the nation.
In California, where presidential votes went heavily in favor of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, confidence fell for two months in advance of the election, pushing the state’s optimism to a nine-month low in October. The index then rose in November and December in the largest two-month surge in nearly two years.
Why the buoyancy? California economic fundamentals remain relatively healthy, with steady growth in jobs, spending and home prices. Economists think the state’s business climate will do well in 2017.
The Conference Board’s polling agrees, as its index data show California consumers were happy with today’s business climate and the outlook. The state’s current conditions’ subindex rose in November and December to its highest level in nine years. The expectations’ subindex rose in December after three monthly dips surrounding the election. This measure of future prospects is now at a 16-month high.
California optimism is not rare.
Nationally, the Conference Board’s national index rose in November and December to its highest level in 15 years. Another sign of U.S. optimism: 44.7 percent of those polled in December think the stock market is headed higher in the next year, the most bullish view since January 2004.
Geographically speaking, when the Conference Board sliced the nation into regions, confidence rose in seven of the nine zones. But consumer optimism was mixed in the seven other big states tracked by the Conference Board.
Three states had higher December confidence readings than California. Those three – Florida, Texas and Ohio – all went for Trump. California was tops in these rankings as recently as August.
Florida shoppers were the most optimistic, as the state’s confidence index jumped two straight months to a 17-month high. Texans were next in confidence, with five straight monthly gains moving its index up to the highest level recorded in this state’s index’s 10-year history. Ohio’s index did tumble last month off its all-time high set in November. But December’s score was still the second-highest since January 2015.
Two other Trump states had falling confidence. In Pennsylvania, optimism fell for the second consecutive month to a four-month low. But that came after the index hit a nine-year high in October. Michigan optimism fell from November’s 13-month high. Both states went for Trump.
Meanwhile, shoppers in Illinois, a Clinton state, continued to be dour late in 2016. Its index dipped for the fourth straight month in December after hitting an 18-month high in August.
What’s not shown by the Conference Board data is the reason behind the post-election uptick in confidence.
Is it a signal of hope that Trump’s promised pro-business plans can boost an already recovering economy? Or is it simply reflecting a huge sigh of shopper relief that the long, contentious battle for the White House is finally over?