Consumer Sentiment Rose 1.3% in Early March

Ann Arbor, MI, March 17, 2017—Consumer sentiment rose 1.3% in early March to 97.6 from February’s 96.3 rate, according to preliminary results from the University of Michigan.

This represents a 7.3% change year over year.

“The overall level of consumer sentiment remained quite favorable in early March due to renewed strength in current economic conditions as well as the extraordinary influence of partisanship on economic prospects,” says Survey of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin. “The Current Economic Conditions component reached its highest level since 2000, largely due to improved personal finances. While current economic conditions were not affected by partisanship, this was not true for the component about future economic prospects: among Democrats, the Expectations Index at 55.3 signaled that a deep recession was imminent, while among Republicans the Index at 122.4 indicated a new era of robust economic growth was ahead. Interestingly, those who self-identified as Independents had an Expectations Index of 88.3, which was nearly equal to the midpoint of the partisan difference. Importantly, there was no moderation in these extreme views from last month, with the maintenance of the partisan divide fueled by selective attention to economic news, with Democrats more frequently reporting unfavorable developments and Republicans more frequently hearing of favorable changes. Overall, the sentiment data has been characterized by rising optimism as well as by rising uncertainty due to the partisan divide. Optimism promotes discretionary spending, and uncertainty makes consumers more cautious spenders. This combination will result in uneven spending gains over time and across products.”

 


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