Sunday, April 17, 2011

USA Consumer Sentiment Rises in April (Charts) *Concerns over high gas prices ease*


Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan: USA Consumer Sentiment

Official Statement (New York Fri Apr 15, 2011) - U.S. consumer sentiment rose more than expected in April as worries about the impact of higher oil prices on economic growth eased slightly, a survey released on Friday showed. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary April reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 69.6, up from 67.5 in March. It was also above the median forecast of 68.5 among economists polled by Reuters. The sentiment reading is still below February's level, with March sentiment the lowest in more than a year.

Trend Even with the April monthly increase, current sentiment (preliminary) is in short, intermediate, and long term downtrends.

Cycle History Consumer Sentiment reached a Post-Great Recession peak of 76.0 in February 2011. A Great Recession cyclical and all-time low of 55.3 was set in November 2008. A Pre-Great Recession peak of 96.9 was reached in January 2007. In 2004 the index was greater than 100.

Consumer Sentiment Index (Chart) Below is a chart of the Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment from November 2008 through the latest month reported. November 2008 was the Great Recession and all-time low 55.3.

Consumer Sentiment 12 Month Moving Average (Chart) Below is a chart of the Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment 12-Month Moving Average from December 2005 through the latest month reported. The previous chart above, the Index of Consumer Sentiment, is rather like following the bouncing ball when charting human sentiment, confidence, mood, and outlook regarding the USA economy and their own individual prospects. Therefore, the 12 month moving average chart smooths out these short-term ups and downs. The Pre-Great Recession peak was in August 2007 at 89.5 while the Great Recession low was in March 2009 at 60.1. The Post-Great Recession peak has been in February 2011 at 72.2. The 12 month moving average leveled off recently and is now decreasing - after all the increases and decreases, hopes and fears, in the past 12+ months.

Commentary The Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment at 69.6 (preliminary) in April was a larger increase than forecast and after the plunge in March due to higher gas prices and general world turmoil. However, as noted by many economists, even with this April increase, USA consumer sentiment is at a low level. The Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment will be revised later in the month from this preliminary reading.

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