US consumer sentiment is at the highest level in 15 years according to the results of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey released on Friday. The index rose to 104.2 in May, outperforming all market expectations.
- The UoM survey hit the highest point since 2004 with a reading of 104.2 vs. 97.5 expected and 97.2 the month before.
- The gain was driven by the expectation index which also hit a 15-year high, while current conditions ticked upward more modestly.
- The sentiment was likely influenced by the stronger than expected GDP results for Q1 2019 which came in at 3.2% growth.
The strong Q1 GDP performance is undoubtedly behind the rise in the expectations index for May, as well as the unemployment rate which remains at a 49-year low, although expectations are likely still being tempered by the ongoing trade conflict between the US and China which remains unresolved.
Inflation expectations for the year ahead rose to 2.8% and inflation over the next 5-10 years is predicted to land at 2.6%. Buying conditions for household durable goods hit the lowest level since August, perhaps pointing to upcoming headwinds in the retail sector. Personal finances were gauged to improve.
Happiness has many definitions. Surely the Michigan Consumer Sentiment reading for May, 102.4 the best score in over a decade, is one. pic.twitter.com/75bqlArydz
— Joseph Trevisani (@JosephTrevisani) May 17, 2019
“Consumers viewed prospects for the overall economy much more favorably, with the economic outlook for the near and longer term reaching their highest levels since 2004. The gains were recorded mostly before the trade negotiations with China collapsed and China responded with their own tariffs.” Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan consumer survey, said in a statement.
“Even apart from the direct impact of tariffs on prices, rising tariffs could cause a more general loss of confidence which could further diminish the pace of consumer spending. At present, the data point toward moderate spending growth in the year ahead. Nonetheless, the data indicate the corrosive impact of an escalating trade war.”
Gold has ticked downward following the unexpected jump in consumer sentiment. Spot gold last traded at $1,279.04/oz with a high of $1,288.82/oz and a low of $1278.11/oz. The precious metal is trading within a tight range and down -0.46% on the day. Selling pressure is likely being alleviated slightly with the weekend approaching as well as some weakness seen today in the stock market.