US December Consumer Sentiment Weaker than Estimated

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment for the United States fell to 95.9 in December of 2017 from 98.5 in November and below the preliminary estimate of 96.8. It was the lowest reading in three months, mainly due to a decline in consumer expectations.

The gauge of consumer expectations fell to 84.3 in December from November's final reading of 88.9 and slightly below a preliminary 84.6. The current conditions index went up to 113.8 from 113.5 in November, but weaker than a preliminary reading of 115.9. 

Also, Americans expect the inflation rate to be 2.7 percent next year, lower than a preliminary 2.8 percent but higher than 2.5 percent in November. The 5-year expectation was also revised down to 2.4 percent from 2.5 percent in the first estimate and compared with November's final figure of 2.4 percent. 

"Consumer confidence continued to slowly sink in December, with most of the decline among lower income households. The extent of the decline was minor, with the December figure just below the average for 2017 (95.9 versus 96.8). Indeed, the average in 2017 was the highest since 2000, and only during the long expansions of the 1960's and 1990's was confidence significantly higher. The recent strength was due to the second highest assessments of current economic conditions since 2000. This strength was offset by a slight increase in uncertainty about future economic prospects. Tax reform was spontaneously mentioned by 29% of all respondents, with nearly an equal split between positive and negative impacts on economic prospects. Party affiliation was the dominant correlate of people's assessments of the tax legislation, with the long term economic outlook the most negatively affected. Buying plans for durables and vehicles remained unchanged at favorable levels. Most consumers will know more about the revised tax code when the new paycheck withholding amounts take effect in early 2018. While the mostly small gains in take-home pay may not spark an uptick in optimism, those gains would act to dampen any renewed pessimism. Overall, the data indicate that real personal consumption expenditures will expand by 2.6% in 2018.", Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, said.

US December Consumer Sentiment Weaker than Estimated

University of Michigan | Joana Ferreira |
12/22/2017 3:10:20 PM