So, what are consumers thinking right now? According to inaugural survey findings from the RBC Consumer Outlook Index, the new monthly survey of U.S. consumers, a majority of Americans (82 percent) feel their local economy will stay the same or weaken within the next six months. However, there are signs of growing confidence, with just over half of Americans (51 percent) now feeling optimistic about their personal financial situations.

The RBC Consumer Outlook Index provides the most comprehensive, forward-looking analysis of consumers’ national and local perceptions of the economy and their personal financial situation based on a representative nationwide sample of 1,007 U.S. adults polled from April 1-5, 2010, by research company Ipsos. Going forward, RBC will publish the Index on a monthly basis. Future reports will include comparisons and analysis regarding significant shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviors, as well as regional breakouts.

“We strongly believe this first look at what consumers are thinking now will be of tremendous value to those looking for insightful and predictive market analysis,” said Marc Harris, Co-Head of Global Research at RBC Capital Markets. “We think that investors will tune in for the data, talk about it and trade on it.”

The survey also found that consumers are also increasingly confident about their current personal financial situations. More Americans feel good (51 percent) than bad (45 percent) about their personal financial situation, a reversal of March benchmark data (42 percent good versus 55 percent bad). Consumers also feel better about their spending money, up six points from March benchmark data (42 percent good in April versus 36 percent good in March).

Although close to half of consumers (46 percent) expect interest rates to increase over the next six months, they are also split on whether now is a good time to buy real estate, such as house or a vacation property, with 34 percent saying now is a good time to buy and 36 percent saying it is not.

How do you feel about the economy? Your personal finances?

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