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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Consumer Sentiment: Final Result for April 2017

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

Predicted: 98.0
Actual: 97.0

  • Change from Last Month: +0.1032%
  • Change from 12 Months Ago: +8.989%

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From today's report:

"...Consumer sentiment continued to travel along the high plateau established following Trump's election, with only minor deviations from its five month average of 97.4. There was widespread agreement among consumers on their very positive assessments of the current state of the economy as well as widespread disagreement on future economic prospects. Although the partisan divide has slightly narrowed in recent months, it still reflects a very pessimistic economic outlook among Democrats and a very optimistic outlook among Republicans. The partisan divide on the Expectations Index was 51.0 points in April (61.4 vs. 112.4), down from last month's 63.1 (59.4 vs. 122.5), with Republicans moderating their optimism more than Democrats reduced their pessimism. Selective perception of news is the driving force behind the partisan divide. Favorable economic developments were cited by nearly all Republicans in April, while three-quarters of Democrats reported hearing negative news about the economy. It is of some interest to note that the Expectations Index among self-identified Independents, who may be less susceptible to traditional political ideologies, rose to a very favorable 91.3 in April, up from March's 85.8 and well above the pre-election October reading of 73.1. The level of optimism among Independents, who account for 42% of all consumers, points toward continued growth in consumer spending in 2017 at about a 2.5% pace. Nonetheless, the partisan extremes will continue to add uncertainty and instability to consumer spending during the year ahead..."

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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 96.9.


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