Friday, February 10, 2017

Preliminary February Consumer Sentiment declines to 95.7

by Bill McBride on 2/10/2017 10:04:00 AM

The preliminary University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for February was at 95.7, down from 98.5 in January.

Consumer confidence retreated from the decade-peak recorded in January, with the decline centered in the Expectations Index. To be sure, confidence remains quite favorable, with only five higher readings in the past decade. Importantly, the data do not reflect any closing of the partisan divide. The Michigan survey includes several free-response questions which ask respondents to answer in their own words, without any prompting or proposed answer categories. When asked to describe any recent news that they had heard about the economy, 30% spontaneously mentioned some favorable aspect of Trump’s policies, and 29% unfavorably referred to Trump’s economic policies. Thus a total of nearly six-in-ten consumers made a positive or negative mention of government policies. In the long history of the surveys, this total had never reached even half that amount, except for five surveys in 2013 and 2014 that were solely dominated by negative references to the debt and fiscal cliff crises. Moreover, never before have these spontaneous references to economic policies had such a large impact on the Sentiment Index: a difference of 37 Index points between those that referred to favorable and unfavorable policies.
emphasis added
Consumer Sentiment
Click on graph for larger image.

Consumer sentiment is a concurrent indicator (not a leading indicator).