U.S. Consumer Sentiment Edges Up in Early September, Outpacing Expectations
By Xavier Fontdegloria
Consumer sentiment in the U.S. increased more than expected in
early September, but confidence among Americans remained at
depressed levels as coronavirus worries persist, results from a
University of Michigan survey showed Friday.
The preliminary estimate of the index of consumer sentiment
stood at 78.9 in September compared with a 74.1 reading in August.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected the
indicator to come in at 75.4.
September's reading posts a second straight month gain and
recovers to June's levels, when consumers felt the reopening of the
economy. Those gains were short-lived and quickly reversed in July
as Covid-19 infections spiked again.
"Consumer sentiment improved in early September, reaching the
top of the range it has traveled since April," said Richard Curtin,
the survey's chief economist.
Despite the gains, the indicator is still 15.3% below the figure
registered the same month a year earlier.
Consumers' assessment of the current economic conditions
increased to 87.5 in September from 82.9 in August. The index of
consumer expectations--which reflects the balance of respondents
anticipating improved business conditions in the next six
months--rose to 73.3 from 68.5 the prior month.
The inflation expectations components moved lower compared with
August, with consumer expecting prices to increase 2.7% next year,
down from 3.1% in August, and 2.6% over the next five years, down
from 2.7% a month earlier.
Data indicated that the election has begun to have an impact on
expectations about future economic prospects, Mr. Curtin said, with
results from July to September indicating a virtual tie between Joe
Biden and Donald Trump when consumers were asked which candidate
they thought would win.
"Over the next several months, there are two factors that could
cause volatile shifts and steep losses in consumer confidence: how
the election is decided and the delays in obtaining vaccinations,"
The survey was conducted between Aug. 26 and Sept. 14. The final
reading for the month will be published on Oct. 2.
Write to Xavier Fontdegloria at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 18, 2020 10:36 ET (14:36 GMT)
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