Michigan Consumer Sentiment Moves Sideways for 4th Straight Month

Consumer sentiment moved sideways for the fourth straight month in April according to the preliminary report for the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. The index fell 1.5 points (-1.9%) to 77.9 from the March final. The latest reading was below the forecast of 79.0.

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:

Sentiment moved sideways for the fourth straight month, as consumers perceived few meaningful developments in the economy. Since January, sentiment has remained remarkably steady within a very narrow 2.5 index point range, well under the 5 points necessary for a statistically significant difference in readings. Consumers perceived little change in the state of the economy since the start of the new year. Expectations over personal finances, business conditions, and labor markets have all been stable over the last four months. However, a slight uptick in inflation expectations in April reflects some frustration that the inflation slowdown may have stalled. Overall, consumers are reserving judgment about the economy in light of the upcoming election, which, in the view of many consumers, could have a substantial impact on the trajectory of the economy.

Year-ahead inflation expectations ticked up from 2.9% last month to 3.1% this month, lifting just above the 2.3-3.0% range seen in the two years prior to the pandemic. Long-run inflation expectations also edged up, from 2.8% last month to 3.0% this month.