US Consumer Sentiment Revised Down in August

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment for the United States stood at 96.8 in August of 2017, below the preliminary estimate of 97.6 and compared with July's final reading of 93.4. Both future expectations and current conditions sub-indices came in lower than previously estimated.

The gauge of consumer expectations stood at 87.7, below the preliminary reading of 89 and compared with 80.5 reported in July. Also, the barometer for current economic conditions came in at 110.9, slightly below the preliminary figure of 111 and lower than July's 113.4.

Americans expect the inflation rate to be 2.6 percent next year, in line with earlier estimates and the same as in July. The 5-year expectation was also unrevised at 2.5 percent compared to 2.6 percent in the previous month. 

"Consumer confidence has remained at a very favorable level, although slipping somewhat from mid-month. The Sentiment Index has been higher during the first eight months of 2017 than in any year since 2000, which was the peak year of the longest expansion in U.S. history. The renewed strength in 2017 was mainly due to consumers' favorable assessments of their own financial situations. Lows in unemployment, inflation, and interest rates, as well as renewed gains in the value of their homes and stock portfolios, pushed personal financial evaluations to near all-time peaks. When asked about news of recent developments, surprisingly few consumers made any reference to Charlottesville, North Korea, or Harvey-although too few interviews were conducted to fully assess the storm's ultimate impact. Harvey may diminish the 3rd quarter pace of economic growth, and higher gas prices will directly impact consumers. Prior to the storm, consumers anticipated no increase in gas prices in the year ahead (an expected change of just +0.4 cents). Given the current resilience of consumers, temporary increases in gas prices as well as a brief period of weakness in economic growth and employment are unlikely to derail confidence. Nonetheless, all of these events are more likely to increase precautionary motives and to slightly temper spending trends.", Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, said.

University of Michigan | Joana Ferreira |
9/1/2017 2:23:57 PM