Consumers see substantial improvement in U.S. economy over past 3 months: survey


The numbers: The University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment inched down to a preliminary August reading of 71.2 after hitting a 22-month high of 71.6 in the prior month.

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had expected sentiment to inch up to a 71.7 reading in August.

Another key part of the report is the U. of M. measure of inflation expectations.

According to the report, Americans’ expectations for overall inflation over the next year slipped to 3.3% in August from 3.4% in the prior month, while expectations for inflation over the next 5 years inched down to 2.9% from 3%.

Key details: According to the Michigan report, a gauge of U.S. consumers’ views on current conditions rose to to 77.4 in August from 76.6 in the prior month, while a barometer of their future expectations fell to 67.3 from 68.3.

Big picture: Sentiment has been boosted by waning recession fears and disinflation in grocery store prices.

What the University of Michigan said: “Consumer sentiment was essentially unchanged from July, with small offsetting increases and decreases within the index.  In general, consumers perceived few material differences in the economic environment from last month, but they saw substantial improvements relative to just three months ago,” said Joanne Hsu, the director of University of Michigan consumer surveys.

Market reaction: Stocks DJIA SPX were mixed in early trading Friday while the yield on the 10-year Treasury note BX:TMUBMUSD10Y rose to 4.12%, the highest level since the spike last week after Fitch Ratings downgraded the U.S. credit rating.

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