Michigan Consumer Sentiment: February Near Interim Peak

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The February preliminary came in at 100.9, near the interim peak of 101.4. Investing.com had forecast 99.5. Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: Consumer sentiment rose to 100.9 in early February to nearly match the expansion peak of 101.4, set two years ago in March 2018. The Expectations Index, the main gauge of future economic conditions, rose to 92.6, also its second highest level in this long expansion. Both measures were still significantly below the levels recorded twenty years ago when the Sentiment Index reached a peak of 112.0 and the Expectations Index peaked at 108.6. The early February gain was not uniform, however. Current personal finances as well as evaluations of the national economy each posted large gains, while consumers’ views on buying conditions for household durables posted a significant loss. The overall balance still moved the Sentiment and Expectations Indexes higher. Net gains in household income and wealth were reported more frequently in early February than at any prior time since 1960 (see the chart). These gains in consumers’ economic assessments have also been accompanied by a faint stirring of two powerful sources of uncertainty. First, the coronavirus was mentioned by just 7% when asked to explain their economic expectations in early February. Second, the runup to the presidential election is likely to focus on the vast changes to taxes and spending programs; in early February, only 10% of all consumers mentioned some aspect of the election as having a potential impact […]

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