U.S. consumer confidence rebounds in June, but rising COVID-19 infections a worryU.S. consumer confidence rebounds in June, but rising COVID-19 infections a worry
FILE PHOTO: Businesses in New York City on first day of phase two re-opening following outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer confidence grew more than expected in June, strengthening views that the economic downturn was likely over, though rising COVID-19 infections threatened to derail the budding recovery.

The Conference Board said on Tuesday its consumer confidence index rose to a reading of 98.1 this month from a downwardly revised 85.9 in May. Still, confidence remains 34.5 points below its pre-pandemic level. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index would rise to 91.8 in June.

“Consumers are less pessimistic about the short-term outlook, but do not foresee a significant pickup in economic activity,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

“Faced with an uncertain and uneven path to recovery, and a potential COVID-19 resurgence, it’s too soon to say that consumers have turned the corner and are ready to begin spending at pre-pandemic levels.”

The survey’s present situation measure, based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, jumped to a reading of 86.2 this month from 68.4 in May.

The expectations index based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions jumped to 106.0 from a reading of 97.6 in May.

The percentage of consumers expecting an increase in income climbed to 15.1% this month from 14.6% in May and the proportion anticipating a drop fell to 14.4% from 15.4%.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)