The Associated Press's Anne D'Innocenzio is clearly mystified and possibly even upset that consumer confidence as reported by the Conference Board on Wednesday fell sharply to its lowest level since November of last year.
Get a load of the second paragraph's first sentence in the version D'Innocenzio posted late yesterday morning shortly after the report's release, followed by asinine assertions which in effect say that Americans don't understand that things are getting better -- and, as usual, it's all about Dear Leader's reelection (bolds are mine):
Americans are feeling worse about the economy than they have in a long time.
Despite an (sic) improving U.S. job and housing markets, consumer confidence fell to the lowest level it's been since November 2011. The results are the latest swing in the index, which has been on a rollercoaster.
... August's reading indicates that the gains in the job and housing markets aren't big enough to put to rest Americans' economic fears, which could have an impact on how they vote in November's presidential election.
Home prices rose in June from the same month last year, the first year-over-year increase since the summer of 2010, according to The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index that was released Tuesday. Additionally, all 20 cities tracked by the index rose in June from May, the second consecutive time in which every city posted month-over-month gains.
The job market also is slowly on the mend. Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the most since February. Job gains averaged 73,000 jobs a month from April through June. But that's not enough to keep up with a rising population, and the unemployment rate increased to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent in June.
One housing market index showing small year-over-year gains (or even two, since the more comprehensive Federal Housing Finance Agency recently reported [large PDF] a 3% year-over-year pickup) does not make an "improving housing market." Seasonally adjusted housing starts fell in July, new home sales have rebounded a bit but are still below where they were at the end of the recession, and sales of existing homes in July, which D'Innocenzio's colleague Christopher Rugaber laughably claimed represented evidence of a "slowly, but steadily improving" situation last week, were below where they were in April.
As to the job market, the AP writer herself noted that the unemployment rate went up in July and that job creation is insufficient in the circumstances. More recently, seasonally adjusted weekly initial unemployment claims have crept up above 370,000 from the mid-350s five weeks ago. There's nothing in recent data supporting Anne's assertion that "The job market also is slowly on the mend."
Steadfastly avoiding what has become the dreaded U-Word ("unexpectedly"), Bloomberg reported that the decline from 65.4 to 60.6 was "the biggest since October" and that "The reading was less than the most- pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey in which the median projection was 66."
Back at AP, a Tuesday evening report by D'Innocenzio informed readers that "No president has been re-elected when confidence was below a reading of 90, which indicates a healthy economy. The index hasn't reached that level since December 2007."
It looks like they might be getting rattled over at the Essential Global News Network, and perhaps hedging against what many at the wire service seemed to believe was unthinkable not that many months ago.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.