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Economists from Bloomberg did forecast the index to increase slightly. The forecasted median was about 78 on the index. The index is published each month and is a national phone survey. The index is meant to assist in making economic predictions by gauging how consumers feel about personal business, spending, and business.
One measure that has affected consumer behavior is gas prices, which rose sharply in February after dropping at the end of 2012. The national average price for gas jumped from $3.42 on January 31st to $3.78 on February 28th. This increase in gas prices also drove up wholesale prices the most in about five months.
Another problem facing the economy is the unemployment rate, which is still high at 7.7 percent. While the inflation outlook stays mild, the Fed it has plans to keep the short-term inflation rate around zero percent. This should continue until the unemployment is down until at least 6.5 percent. Consumers and investors should continue to keep an eye on this indicator of how consumer spending will go.
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