IT: Business and Consumer Confidence

Thu May 28 03:00:00 CDT 2015

Consensus Actual Previous Revised
Bus. Conf. Level 104.3 102.0 102.1
Cons. Conf. Level 107.7 105.7 108.2 108.0
Mfg. Conf. Level 103.5 104.1 104.1

Overall business sentiment was essentially unchanged in May. At 102.0 the composite sentiment indicator was down just a tick versus its unrevised April reading but still well above the levels seen over much of last year.

However, the stability of the headline index masked deteriorating confidence in manufacturing, construction, and retail. In particular, manufacturing morale slipped 0.5 points to 103.5, reversing virtually all of its April advance. That said, the May print was still the second strongest since early 2011. The construction sector index was 1.5 points lower at 121.8 while services dipped 1.6 points to 104.3. The only rise was in retail, up just 0.4 points at 104.9.

Consumer confidence declined a sharper 2.3 points to 105.7, its second consecutive drop and its lowest level so far in 2015. Within the household survey, buying intentions also deteriorated, sliding 5 points to minus 63, a 3-month low. Moreover, following three successive increases, inflation expectations decreased slightly.

Today's report makes for some downside risk to next week's May PMIs.

Istat's business and consumer confidence surveys are conducted over the first fifteen and ten working days of each reference month respectively and provide information about current and expected developments in key sector variables. The largely qualitative results are synthesized for each survey into a single number that provides an overall measure of sentiment. Business confidence reflects the combined results of separate surveys covering manufacturing, retail, construction and services.

If investors want to know how the business or consumer sectors are performing as they evaluate their investment decisions, they can find timely and in depth information in the latest Istat surveys. Although short-term swings can be erratic, changes in trends in confidence can contain very useful information about a sector's underlying health well in advance of the release of the official data. Moreover, by including some forward-looking components (e.g. manufacturing orders or consumer buying intentions) the Istat surveys can also provide a potential insight into prospective developments.