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Metro area consumer confidence dips in June on gas worries

At the Gulf station on Walt Whitman Rd.

At the Gulf station on Walt Whitman Rd. in Melville the cash price of regular gas was $2.45 per gallon on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Credit: Raychel Brightman

Consumer confidence in the metropolitan area dipped last month compared with March as more people said they were concerned about higher gasoline prices.

The Siena College Research Institute said Wednesday that its Index of Consumer Sentiment was 90.2 points in June for Long Island, New York City and its northern suburbs.

The index was 90.7 points in March, the highest level in more than nine years. In December 2015, the index stood at 89.3.

Index readings above 76 points indicate the number of residents who are optimistic about their immediate financial future is larger than the number who are pessimistic.

Concern about gasoline prices has increased since the spring.

The number of metro area residents saying pump prices are either a significant or very significant problem was 30 percent last month compared with 24 percent in March. In December 2015, 30 percent said gas prices were a concern.

“No commodity demand is more elastic than gasoline,” Siena pollster Douglas Lonnstrom said. “With a recent increase in prices as well as entering the summer driving season, concern over gasoline prices is up from a record low.” Still, he said, “concern remains well below the rate we saw for years.”

He said turmoil in the U.S. presidential campaign and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union don’t seem to have affected consumer confidence in the metro area.

Economists and retailers closely follow confidence indexes because they can indicate whether shoppers are willing to spend. Consumers represent about 70 percent of economic activity locally and nationwide.

The Siena index is based on a telephone poll of 801 New Yorkers conducted between June 1 and 28. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

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