Michigan Consumer Sentiment Moves Sideways in February

Consumer sentiment moved sideways in February according to the final report for the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. The index fell 2.1 points (2.7%) to 76.9 from the January final. The latest reading was below the forecast of 79.6.

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 moved sideways this month, slipping just two index points below January and holding the gains in sentiment seen over the past three months. Expected business conditions remained substantially higher than last autumn, with short-run expectations now 63% above and long-run expectations 46% above November 2023 readings. For all but one index component, readings this month were higher than all values between mid-2021 and the end of 2023. Consumers perceived few changes in the state of the economy since the start of the new year, and they appear to be assured that inflation will continue on a favorable trajectory. Sentiment is currently 8 points shy of the historical average since 1978.

Year-ahead inflation inched up from 2.9 in January to 3.0% in February. For the second straight month, short-run inflation expectations have fallen within the 2.3-3.0% range seen in 2018 and 2019. 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 modestly elevated relative to the 2.2-2.6% range seen in the two years pre-pandemic.