Consumer confidence fell in February to the lowest level in seven months as Americans’ assessment of economic conditions weakened.
The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index dipped to 92.2 this month, down from a reading of 97.8 in January, which had been a three-month high.
The February reading was the lowest since confidence stood at 91.0 in July.
Consumers’ assessment of current conditions weakened primarily because of less-favorable views about business conditions.
The percentage of people saying business conditions were good fell to 26 percent, down from 27.7 percent, while the percentage that said business conditions were bad increased to 19.8 percent from 18.8 percent.
Consumers were also less positive about the labor market.
Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board, said the continued turbulence in financial markets could be depressing confidence.
But he said views on current conditions, even with the February decline, remained at levels that suggest the economy will keep growing at a moderate pace in coming months.
— Associated Press
U.S. chocolate maker Mars said Tuesday that it is recalling candy bars and other items in 55 countries in Europe and elsewhere after plastic was found in one of its products.
Roel Govers, spokesman for Mars in the Netherlands, told the Associated Press that the recall affects 55 countries but would not provide further details,.
Mars in Germany confirmed that it was one of the countries affected and said in a statement that the recall affected products with “best before” dates from June 19, 2016, to Jan. 8, 2017.
The Dutch food-safety authority posted what it said was a Mars news release on its website, saying a piece of plastic had been found in a product that could lead to choking. It listed affected products as Mars, Milky Way, Snickers, Celebrations and Minis Mix.
Mars is a private company based in McLean, Va.
— Associated Press
● The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Tuesday that it ordered Citibank to pay $5 million back to customers and $3 million in penalties over its debt sales and collection practices. In a statement, the agency said it took action against the financial services company for selling credit-card debt with inflated interest rates and for not forwarding consumer payments promptly to debt buyers. It said it also ordered Citibank, part of Citigroup, and two law firms it used to comply with a court order to refund $11 million to consumers and forgo collecting about $34 million from about 7,000 consumers.
● Macy’s wrapped up a weak fiscal year on an encouraging note. The nation’s largest department-store retailer, which also operates Bloomingdale’s stores, reported a 31 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit, dragged down by store closings and other costs. But the adjusted results beat Wall Street estimates and sales picked up in the final weeks of the holiday quarter as winter finally arrived, driving sales of coats and boots higher. Macy’s earned $544 million, or $1.73 per share, in the quarter ended Jan. 30. Adjusted profits were $2.09 per share. Total revenue fell 5.2 percent, to $8.87 billion.● Home Depot posted fourth-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates and projected that its robust sales growth would continue this year, with consumers showing no signs of pulling back on renovations and projects. Profit in the quarter through Jan. 31 rose to $1.17 a share, the Atlanta-based company said Tuesday in a statement. Analysts estimated $1.10, on average. Sales climbed 9.5 percent to $21 billion, beating analysts’ $20.4 billion projection. Revenue this year will gain as much as 6 percent, which is slightly higher than its average growth rate of the past four years. The results signal that Home Depot’s business remains largely immune to a broader retail slump. ●
● U.S. home prices increased at a solid clip in December, helped by a healthy job market and low mortgage rates. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.7 percent from a year earlier. Prices rose 11.4 percent in Portland, Ore.; 10.3 percent in San Francisco; and 10.2 percent in Denver. The District of Columbia registered the lowest annual increase, 1.7 percent. In December, the index reached the highest level since February 2008 but remained nearly 12 percent below its July 2006 peak. Mortgage rates remain near historic lows more than two months after the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates for the first time since 2006.
— From news services
● 10 a.m.: Commerce Department releases new-home sales for January.
● Earnings: Lowe’s, Target.
— From news services