SALT LAKE CITY, Utah; June 26, 2012 — The Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) increased 0.7 points to 79.7 in June. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® (CCI) decreased 2.4 points to 62.0, resulting in a 17.7 point difference between the two indexes. Even though consumer confidence remained relatively constant from May to June, the CAI is up 13.5 points from this time last year.
The Zions Bank Present Situation Index — a measurement of confidence in current business and employment conditions — increased 0.3 points in June, compared to a 1.7 point increase nationally. Consumers viewed current business conditions in June as slightly worse than May, while employment opportunities in their area were slightly better than last month. The Zions Bank Expectations Index — a gauge of consumer confidence in the economy six months from now — increased 1.0 points, a stark contrast to the national average, which decreased 5 points. Confidence in housing price increases and gasoline price decreases drove the upturn in expectations.
The housing sector continues to recover at a slow, but sustained, pace. The national housing market started gathering momentum earlier this year, and maintained consistent growth through the first six months of 2012. Nearly 83 percent of consumers surveyed for the CAI believe that the price of homes like theirs will stay the same or increased over the next 12 months, which represents a 15 percentage point increase from a year ago at this time. Utahns’ confidence in the housing market reflects national and local trends. Demand for new U.S. homes increased by 7.6 percent in June, exceeding the forecasted rate. Similarly, the Utah Association of Realtors reported that housing sales over the first four months of 2012 are up 11.4 percent from the same period last year.
Gasoline prices have been an anchor on consumer spending and confidence for most of 2012. In May, prices at the pump stabilized in Utah, but Utahns were still paying approximately 20 cents more per gallon than the rest of the United States. Now, consumers are expecting gas prices to come down after four months of price increases. The percent of Utahns that think gasoline prices will go up over the next 12 months is down 20 percentage points from three months ago. National trends indicate it is likely that gasoline prices will decrease over the next few months in Utah.
“The Utah economy continued its positive momentum in June despite challenges from international markets,” said Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson. “Utah has maintained unemployment rates far lower than the rest of the United States, and the housing market appears to be on the right track both locally and nationally. Over the last several months, Utah has seen new home construction increase and housing inventories decrease. Sustained recovery in the housing sector has substantial repercussions for the rest of the economy.”
Zions Bank provides the CAI as a free resource to the communities of Utah. The monthly CAI summary reports are released at a monthly press conference, coinciding with The Conference Board’s national CCI release date. The reports are available online at www.zionsbank.com/cai. Analysis and data collection for the CAI are done by The Cicero Group/Dan Jones & Associates, a premier market research firm based in Salt Lake City. The July CAI will be released during a press conference at a local business at 10:30 a.m. on July 31, 2012.
About Zions Bank
Zions Bank, a division of ZB, N.A., operates 122 full-service financial centers throughout Utah and Idaho. In addition to offering a wide range of traditional banking services, Zions Bank is also a leader in small business lending and has consistently ranked as the No. 1 lender of U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) loans in Utah for the past 23 years and Idaho’s Boise District for the past 15 years. Founded in 1873, Zions Bank has been serving the communities of the Intermountain West for more than 140 years. Additional information is available at www.zionsbank.com.