The numbers: Consumer sentiment improved slightly in October to 59.9, though Americans perceptions of the economy remained historically negative as a weak stock market and ongoing inflation weighed on their finances.
The University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer attitudes added 1.3 index points from 58.6 in September, and was up slightly from an initial reading of 59.8 earlier in the month.
Economists were expecting at a reading of 59.8, according to a Wall Street Journal poll.
Big picture: While the rate of inflation is no longer worsening, steady price increases for key items like food and shelter continue to weigh on the American mood.
“With sentiment sitting only 10 index points above the all-time low reached in June, the recent news of a slowdown in consumer spending in the third quarter comes as no surprise,’ wrote the survey’s director, Joanne Hsu, in a Friday note.
“While lower-income consumers reported sizable gains in overall sentiment, consumers with considerable stock market and housing wealth exhibited notable declines in sentiment, weighed down by tumult in those markets,” she added. “Given consumers’ ongoing unease over the economy, most notably this month among higher-income consumers, any continued weakening in incomes or wealth could lead to further pullbacks in spending that would reinforce other risks of recession.”
Key details: A gauge of consumer’s views of current conditions rose in October to 65.6 from 59.7 in September, while an indicator of expectations for the next six months fell to 56.2 from 58 last month.