Friday, February 27, 2015

Catching Up: Final February Consumer Sentiment at 95.4, Chicago PMI declines Sharply

by Bill McBride on 2/27/2015 11:18:00 AM

Consumer Sentiment
Click on graph for larger image.

The final Reuters / University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for February was at 95.4, up from the preliminary reading of 93.6, and down from 98.1 in January.

This was above the consensus forecast of 94.0. Sentiment has been generally improving, and then surged last year at gasoline prices declined - and the economy improved.  The decline in February was probably related to higher gasoline prices.

Chicago PMI February 2015: Chicago Business Barometer At 5½-Year Low

The Chicago Business Barometer plunged 13.6 points to 45.8 in February, the lowest level since July 2009 and the first time in contraction since April 2013. The sharp fall in business activity in February came as Production, New Orders, Order Backlogs and Employment all suffered double digit losses, leaving them below the 50 level which separates contraction from expansion.

The West Coast port strike and the harsh winter probably had a negative impact in February, although it is difficult to gauge the magnitude.
emphasis added
This was well below the consensus forecast of 58.3.  This is just one month, and the decline could be related to special factors - such as the port strike - and we need to see what happens in March.