Michigan Consumer Sentiment Essentially Unchanged in February

Consumer sentiment was essentially unchanged in February according to the preliminary report for the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. The index inched up 0.6 points (0.8%) to 79.6 from the January final. The latest reading was below the forecast of 80.0.

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 was essentially unchanged from January, rising 0.6 index points this month and solidifying the large gains from the past two months. The fact that sentiment lost no ground this month suggests that consumers continue to feel more assured about the economy, confirming the considerable improvements in December and January across various aspects of the economy. Consumers continued to express confidence that the slowdown in inflation and strength in labor markets would continue. Five-year expectations for business conditions rose 5% to its highest reading since December 2020. Sentiment is currently about 30% above November 2023 and about 6% below its historical average since monthly data collection began in 1978.

Year-ahead inflation inched up from 2.9 in January to 3.0% in February. For the second consecutive month, short-run inflation expectations have fallen within the 2.3-3.0% range seen in the two years prior to the pandemic. Long-run inflation expectations remained at 2.9% for the third straight month, staying within the narrow 2.9-3.1% range for 28 of the last 31 months. Long-run inflation expectations were elevated relative to the 2.2-2.6% range seen in the two years pre-pandemic.