By Xavier Fontdegloria


Consumer confidence in the U.S. increased slightly in October compared with September, but data collected during the second half of the month showed sentiment is stalling, according to a University of Michigan survey released Friday.

The final reading of the index of consumer sentiment was 81.8 in October, marginally higher than the flash estimate of 81.2 two weeks ago and slightly up from September's 80.4 level. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected the indicator to remain unchanged from its preliminary reading at 81.2.

Consumer confidence is still 14.3% lower compared with the same month a year earlier, data showed.

Fear and loathing among Americans are producing a false sense of stability in consumer sentiment, said Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist.

"Fears were generated by rising Covid-19 infection and death rates, and loathing was generated by the hyper-partisanship that has driven the election to ideological extremes," he said, noting that the impact of both the virus and the political division will continue long past the election "with the potential to permanently alter the economic and political landscape."

Consumers' assessment of the current economic conditions decreased to 85.9 in October from 87.8 in September, but rose from the flash reading of 84.9 two weeks ago.

The index of consumer expectations--which reflects the balance of respondents anticipating improved business conditions in the next six months--rose to 79.2 from 75.6 the prior month, and increased from the 78.8 preliminary estimate.

"The outcome of the election can accelerate or narrow these partisan shifts, but unlike the 2016 election, renewed optimism now requires progress against the coronavirus and mitigating its uneven impact on families, firms, and local governments," Mr. Curtin said.


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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 30, 2020 10:31 ET (14:31 GMT)

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