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Consumer Sentiment  
Released On 3/13/2009 9:55:00 AM For Mar(p), 2009
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Sentiment Index - Level56.3 55.0 47.5  to 57.0 56.6 

There's probably more positives than negatives, than new negatives at least, in the mid-March consumer sentiment report. The headline index edged 3 tenths higher to a still severely low level of 56.6. But expectations, the report's leading component, did rise 2-1/2 points to 53.0 -- indicating that pessimism isn't getting worse and perhaps hinting that pessimism may now be receding. One-year inflation expectations also rose, up 3 tenths to 2.2 percent in a reading that points to seasonal expectations for higher gas prices but also perhaps to expectations that economic activity will return to normal.

On the downside, though, the current conditions component fell more than 3 points to 62.3, a reflection of ongoing and very severe contraction in the labor market. Accounts seem to be focusing on the positive aspects of the report as money is now moving out of the safety of the Treasury market.

Consensus Outlook
The Reuter's/University of Michigan's Consumer sentiment index for February came in at 56.3, compared against 61.2 in January. The latest number was barely above the record low of 51.7 set in May 1981. With the continued worsening in unemployment and further declines in stock prices, we may see a new record low set for March.

The University of Michigan's Consumer Survey Center questions 600 households each month on their financial conditions and attitudes about the economy. Consumer sentiment is directly related to the strength of consumer spending. Consumer confidence and consumer sentiment are two ways of talking about consumer attitudes. Among economic reports, consumer sentiment refers to the Michigan survey while consumer confidence refers to The Conference Board's survey. Preliminary estimates for a month are released at mid-month. Final estimates for a month are released near the end of the month.  Why Investors Care
Consumer sentiment is mainly affected by inflation and employment conditions. However, consumers are also impacted by current events such as bear & bull markets, geopolitical events such as war and terrorist attacks. Investors monitor consumer sentiment because it tends to have an impact on consumer spending over the long run (although not necessarily on a monthly basis.)

2009 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/161/302/132/273/133/274/175/15/155/296/126/267/107/248/14
Release For: JanJanFebFebMarMarAprAprMayMayJunJunJulJulAug
Released On: 8/289/119/2510/1610/3011/1311/2512/1112/23
Release For: AugSepSepOctOctNovNovDecDec

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