By Gwynn Guilford

Americans' views of the economy improved in May, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to rattle consumers, according to a University of Michigan survey released Friday.

The survey's index of consumer sentiment climbed to 72.3 in the five weeks ending May 26, from 71.8 for the previous four weeks. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a reading of 74.0.

The index's upturn reflected an improvement in household finances and attitudes toward buying as consumers adapted to the pandemic, said Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist.

"The CARES relief checks and higher unemployment payments have helped to stem economic hardship, but those programs have not acted to stimulate discretionary spending due to uncertainty about the future course of the pandemic" he said, referring to the federal rescue package passed in late March.

The expectations index fell to 65.9, from 70.1 in April. The index of current conditions rose to 82.3, from 74.3 a month ago.

The survey was conducted between April 22 and May 26. During that time, the tally of newly reported coronavirus cases and deaths began drifting downward, and most states started lifting some restrictions on businesses. Americans filed around 17 million applications for unemployment insurance benefits over those five weeks.

Write to Gwynn Guilford at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 29, 2020 10:53 ET (14:53 GMT)

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