A late-month boost among wealthier Americans kept consumer sentiment from falling as much as forecast in September, indicating some households are starting to look beyond the recent turmoil in financial markets.
The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment final index for the month decreased to 87.2, the lowest level since October, from 91.9 in August. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey called for a reading 86.5, compared with a preliminary September reading of 85.7.
“Consumers increasingly concluded that the stock-market declines had more to do with international conditions than the domestic economy,” Richard Curtin, director of the Michigan Survey of Consumers, said in a statement. “To be sure, a raft of recent events have been viewed as negative economic indicators by consumers.”
A plunge in commodity prices caused by a rising dollar and slower growth in emerging markets has weighed on consumer attitudes, although spending has so far continued to hold up. Falling gasoline prices and firming job and housing markets indicate household purchases will underpin growth.
Estimates of the 61 economists in the Bloomberg survey for the sentiment measure ranged from 83 to 92. The gauge averaged 94.3 this year through August, and 84.1 in 2014.
The Michigan sentiment survey’s index of expectations six months from now declined to 78.2 from 83.4 last month. The initial reading was 76.4. The gauge of current conditions, which measures Americans’ views of their personal finances, fell to 101.2 in September from 105.1 a month earlier. The preliminary figure was 100.3.
Americans expected an inflation rate of 2.8 percent in the next year, the same as in August. Over the next five to 10 years, they expect a 2.7 percent rate of inflation, also unchanged from the previous month. Both readings were 0.1 percentage point lower than the preliminary estimates.
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