Michigan Consumer Sentiment Drops for First Time in Four Months
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The March preliminary report for the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index came in at 63.4, down 3.6 (-5.4%) from the February final. This morning's reading was the first monthly decline in the last four months and came in below the Investing.com forecast of 66.9. Since its beginning in 1978, consumer sentiment is 25.7% below its average reading (arithmetic mean) and 24.7% below its geometric mean.
The Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is a monthly survey of consumer confidence levels in the U.S. with regards to the economy, personal finances, business conditions, and buying conditions, conducted by the University of Michigan. There are two reports released each month; a preliminary report released mid-month and a final report released at the end of the month.
Joanne Hsu, the director of surveys, made the following comments:
Consumer sentiment fell for the first time in four months, sitting about 5% below February but remaining 7% above a year ago. This month’s decrease was already fully realized prior to the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, at which time about 85% of our interviews for this preliminary release had been completed. Sentiment declines were concentrated among lower-income, less-educated, and younger consumers, as well as consumers with the top tercile of stock holdings. Overall, all components of the index worsened relatively evenly, primarily on the basis of persistently high prices, creating downward momentum for sentiment leading into the financial turmoil that began last week.
Year-ahead inflation expectations receded from 4.1% in February to 3.8%, the lowest reading since April 2021, but remain well above the 2.3-3.0% range seen in the two years prior to the pandemic. Long-run inflation expectations edged down to 2.8%, falling below the narrow 2.9-3.1% range for only the second time in the last 20 months. Long-run inflation expectations remain elevated relative to the 2.2-2.6% range seen in the two years pre-pandemic. With ongoing turbulence in the financial sector and uncertainty over the Fed’s possible policy response, inflation expectations are likely to be volatile in the months ahead. [More...]