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Consumer Sentiment  
Released On 4/27/2012 9:55:00 AM For Apr(f), 2012
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Sentiment Index - Level75.7 75.8 74.0  to 78.0 76.4 

Consumer sentiment is inching back near the very highest level of the recovery. The Reuters/University of Michigan index rose slightly to 76.4 in April with strength, given comparison with a slightly lower mid-month reading, loaded in the last couple of weeks. The recovery peak for this index, hit early last year, is just a little higher than the current level. The index also hit a similar peak in early 2010. But the final story for the prior two peaks was disappointment as the index quickly lost steam and slid back -- and especially so last year.

One plus for the outlook this time around is the play between the expectations component (72.3 April vs 69.8 March) and the current conditions component (82.9 vs 86.0). Consumer expectations are improving at the same time that their assessment of current conditions is weakening, a combination that hints at underlying optimism and the hope that conditions will be getting better, not worse. Some if not much of this optimism is tied to the current moderation underway for gas prices, a moderation that helps boost confidence in future income. The effect of gas prices is indicated in this report in inflation expectations which show a huge seven tenth decline in the one-year outlook, to 3.2 percent, and a one tenth decline in the five-year outlook to 2.9 percent.

Spirits are at a pivotal point and the outlook this time around may be positive, that all the bad news out of Europe and slowing in China have yet to affect the US consumer. There's little initial reaction to today's report.

Consensus Outlook
The Reuter's/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at mid-April slipped to 75.7 from final March at 76.2. The notable weakness was in the consumer's assessment of current conditions which, at 80.6, fell 5.4 points in an unusually steep decline. The report's expectations component was a positive, up 2.7 points to 72.5 for its best reading of the recovery. This suggests that consumers believe the current disappointment will be short lived.

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.)

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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