US consumer sentiment down in April: Survey

02 May 2016

Consumer sentiment was less positive in April as the presidential election weighed down future expectations, a recent survey by the University of Michigan showed.

According to the survey, the index of consumer sentiment hit 89 in April.

Consumer sentiment was expected to reach 90 in April's final reading, down from 91 in March, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

"Consumer sentiment continued its slow decline in late April due to weakening expectations for future growth, although their views of current economic conditions remained positive," said Richard Curtin, an economist who oversees the survey, CNBC reported.

The survey which measures the attitudes of consumers toward current economic conditions and future expectations is a closely followed barometer of economic health.

Even as consumers' assessment of current business conditions improved from 105.6 to 106.7 during April, their future outlook dimmed. The index of future expectations however, declined to 77.6 from 81.5 in March.

Curtin said in a statement that future expectations were now down 14.7 per cent from their January 2015 peak.

"The decline is all the more remarkable given that consumers' assessments of current economic conditions, including their personal finance, have remained largely unchanged at very positive levels during the past year," Curtin said.

"This divergence may reflect the strength of the consumer relative to the business sectors, and may have been exacerbated by growing uncertainty about the economic policies advocated by various presidential candidates."

The index of consumer expectations reading was the weakest since September and the fourth straight drop. It was 95.9 a year ago.

Curtin said consumers might have been troubled this month "by growing uncertainty about the economic policies advocated by various presidential candidates."

However, economists said the confidence readings were relatively strong. "In general, consumer sentiment and confidence indexes have been erratic in recent months ... but they remain at healthy levels," Joshua Shapiro, chief US economist at MFR Inc, wrote in a research note.

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