The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, released on Friday, came in at 92 for September, recovering from the three-year low of 89.8 seen in August. The reading is still the third-worst result of Donald Trump’s presidency.
- Consumer sentiment was measured at 92 in September, up from 89.8 in August and above expectations of 91.4.
- The consumer sentiment index is still well below the July reading of 98.4, and remains near a three-year low.
- The economic impact and of and uncertainty around trade war are key factors behind the softening seen in consumer sentiment.
Current conditions rose to 106.9 in September from 105.3 in August, and expectations rose from 79.9 to 82.4. However, concerns about the impact of tariffs rose among respondents. Consumers estimated inflation to rise to 2.3%, over the next five to ten years, matching an all-time low and down from expectations of 2.6% in August. Inflation readings in the survey are closely monitored by the Fed and will likely lend support to a third rate cut later this month. Consumer outlook of inflation-adjusted incomes rose to the most favourable level in 20 years, with the current personal finances gauge hitting a seven-month high of 160 after reaching 135 the month before. Meanwhile, views of the economic outlook were more moderate.
Republicans are reportedly more confident, while sentiment among Democrats has hit the lowest point since October 2008, although this appears to be purely based on economic values – a quote from the survey states that “the impeachment inquiry has not had a significant negative impact on economic prospects.” One third of consumers expected a bump in the rate of unemployment.
— Jill Mislinski (@JillMislinski) October 11, 2019
The report eases some concerns of recessionary pressures, although makes it clear that the US/China trade war continues to have a serious impact on economic growth in the US.
“While a recession is not anticipated in the year ahead, neither is a resurgence in personal consumption,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist of the UMich survey.
What are they saying? “The trend is softening. Blame the trade war,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
Gold prices are significantly down on the day. Spot gold last traded at $1,485.12/oz, down .65% with a high of $1,503.04/oz and a low of $1,474.78/oz. Gold closed below $1,500 on Thursday following a sell-off in the market, and a strong stock market rally has fed risk-appetite which is likely contributing to the downward momentum seen in the gold market today.