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Consumer Sentiment
Released On 3/30/2012 9:55:00 AM For Mar, 2012
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Sentiment Index - Level74.3 75.0 72.0  to 78.9 76.2 

Highlights
Consumer sentiment is at its best level of the recovery with the index at 76.2 in March vs February's 75.3. This report is broken into two-week sections and the implied reading for the last two weeks is 77.1. The last time the index was in this area was early 2008.

The current conditions index is the stand-out, up three points in the month to 86.0. Gains here reflect improvement in the jobs market and also gains underway in the stock market. But confidence in the outlook is lagging with the expectations component, at 69.8, slipping five tenths in the month from February's 2-1/2 year high of 70.3.

The impact on sentiment from the rise at the gas pump was limited in March to the first half of the month with, in what is mildly positive news, the second half showing little change. One-year inflation expectations are at 3.9 percent vs February's 3.3 percent. Five-year expectations are at 3.0 percent vs 2.9 percent last month.

The Dow is showing no significant reaction to this report, which like Tuesday's consumer confidence report, points to solid health for the consumer.

Market Consensus before announcement
The Reuter's/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index nudged down 1.0 point in preliminary March to 74.3 from the final reading for February. Components were mixed. Current conditions rose from 83.0 to 84.2 while expectations slipped to 68.0 from 70.3.

Definition
The University of Michigan's Consumer Survey Center questions 500 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
 
[Chart]
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.)
 

 

2012 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/131/272/102/243/163/304/134/275/115/256/156/297/137/278/17
Release For: JanJanFebFebMa(p)rMarAprAprMayMayJunJunJulJulAug
 
Released On: 8/319/149/2810/1210/2611/911/2112/712/21
Release For: AugSepSepOctOctNovNovDecDec
 


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