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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Consumer Sentiment: Final Result for January 2017

The University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) - Final Result for January 2017 was released today:

Predicted: 98.2
Actual: 98.5

  • Change from Last Month: +0.3055%
  • Change from 12 Months Ago: +7.0652%

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From today's report:

"...Consumers expressed a higher level of confidence January than any other time in the last dozen years. The post-election surge in confidence was driven by a more optimistic outlook for the economy and job growth during the year ahead as well as more favorable economic prospects over the next five years. Consumers also reported much more positive assessments of their current financial situation due to gains in both incomes and household wealth, and anticipated the most positive outlook for their personal finances in more than a decade.

Consumers have become more convinced that the stronger economy would finally prompt the Fed to increase interest rates at a quicker pace, which caused one-in-five consumers to favor borrowing-in-advance of anticipated increases in mortgage rates, the highest level in more than twenty years.

Overall, the post-election surge in consumer confidence was based on political promises, and not, as yet, on economic outcomes. Moreover, over the past half century the surveys have never recorded as dominant an impact of partisanship on economic expectations. When the same consumers were re-interviewed from six months ago, the survey recorded extreme swings based on political party affiliation, with Democrats becoming much more pessimistic and Republicans much more optimistic. Such divergences will ultimately converge since consumers hold economic expectations to be useful decision guides, which will require both sides to temper their extreme views..."

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The ICS is derived from the following five survey questions:

  1. "We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you (and your family living there) are better off or worse off financially than you were a year ago?"


  2. "Now looking ahead, do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be better off financially, or worse off, or just about the same as now?"


  3. "Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole, do you think that during the next twelve months we'll have good times financially, or bad times, or what?"


  4. "Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely: that in the country as a whole we'll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, or that we will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what?"


  5. "About the big things people buy for their homes, such as furniture, a refrigerator, stove, television, and things like that. Generally speaking, do you think now is a good or bad time for people to buy major household items?"

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The ICS uses a 1966 baseline, i.e. for 1966, the ICS = 100. So any number that is below the 1966 baseline of 100 means that the folks who were polled recently aren't as optimistic about the U.S. economy as the sample that was polled back in 1966.

The ICS is similar to the Consumer Confidence Index in that they both measure consumer attitudes and offer valuable insight into consumer spending.

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The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

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Last month's final ICS reading was 98.2.


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