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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Friday, September 01, 2017

Consumer Sentiment: Final Result for August 2017

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

Predicted: 97.4
Actual: 96.8

  • Change from Last Month: +3.6403%
  • Change from 12 Months Ago: +7.7951%

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From today's report:

"...Consumer confidence has remained at a very favorable level, although slipping somewhat from mid-month. The Sentiment Index has been higher during the first eight months of 2017 than in any year since 2000, which was the peak year of the longest expansion in U.S. history. The renewed strength in 2017 was mainly due to consumers' favorable assessments of their own financial situations. Lows in unemployment, inflation, and interest rates, as well as renewed gains in the value of their homes and stock portfolios, pushed personal financial evaluations to near all-time peaks. When asked about news of recent developments, surprisingly few consumers made any reference to Charlottesville, North Korea, or Harvey-although too few interviews were conducted to fully assess the storm's ultimate impact. Harvey may diminish the 3rd quarter pace of economic growth, and higher gas prices will directly impact consumers. Prior to the storm, consumers anticipated no increase in gas prices in the year ahead (an expected change of just +0.4 cents). Given the current resilience of consumers, temporary increases in gas prices as well as a brief period of weakness in economic growth and employment are unlikely to derail confidence. Nonetheless, all of these events are more likely to increase precautionary motives and to slightly temper spending trend..."

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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 93.4.


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