Friday, March 18, 2016

Preliminary March Consumer Sentiment decreases to 90.0

by Bill McBride on 3/18/2016 10:04:00 AM

The preliminary University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for March was at 90.0, down from 91.7 in February:

Consumer confidence eased in early March due to increased concerns about prospects for the economy as well as the expectation that gas prices would inch upward during the year ahead. All of the decline during the past year has been in the Expectations Index, which was due to a weakening outlook for the pace of growth in the national economy. While consumers do not anticipate a recession, they no longer expect the economy to outperform the 2.4% rate of economic growth recorded in the past two years. In contrast, personal financial expectations remained strong in early March, comparable to the favorable levels recorded nearly a decade ago. Overall, it would appear that consumers have accommodated slower economic growth as well as rising gas prices without an accompanying rise in uncertainty about their own personal financial situation. The most important element supporting consumers' optimism is their conviction that the slower pace of economic growth will not have an appreciable impact on maintaining the jobless rate at about its current low level. The data are still consistent with a 2.7% rate of growth in personal consumption expenditures during 2016.
emphasis added
This was below the consensus forecast of 92.2.

Consumer Sentiment
Click on graph for larger image.