Consumer sentiment in September held at the lowest level since April, as people became more optimistic about the economic outlook but less sanguine about their incomes and buying plans.
The University of Michigan’s preliminary index of sentiment was unchanged at 89.8, according to a report Friday. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey called for a reading of 90.6.
Consumers’ views of current economic conditions fell to an almost one-year low, while households’ plans to purchase automobiles and other big-ticket items became more dependent on low interest rates. Retail sales fell in August for the first time in five months, hinting at a smaller rebound in the economy this quarter.
“Consumers reported somewhat less favorable assessments of their current finances largely due to fewer reports of income increases,” Richard Curtin, director of the Michigan survey, said in a statement. Still, “consumers remain reasonably optimistic about their future economic prospects.”
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 88 to 93. Friday’s figure compares with an average consumer sentiment reading of 92.9 in 2015 and 91.5 in the first eight months of this year.
The current conditions index, which is an assessment of the state of personal finances, dropped to 103.5, the lowest since October, from 107 in August.
Among all households, 42 percent reported an improvement in their financial situation this month, down from 49 percent three months ago.
A gauge of expectations for the next six months improved to 81.1 from 78.7 last month.
Inflation expectations for the next year dropped to 2.3 percent compared with 2.5 percent in August. Over the next five to 10 years, Americans expected prices to rise 2.5 percent, matching a record low.
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