Econoday Economic Report: Consumer Sentiment

Tariffs or not, consumer expectations jumped this month and fed a much stronger-than-expected 102.4 preliminary May result for consumer sentiment. This is a 15-year high and marks only the fourth plus-100 reading of the expansion, all over the last several years.

The expectations component jumped 8.6 points to 96.0 which is also a 15-year high while, in sharp contrast, current conditions edged only 1 tenth higher to a still moderate 112.4.

Tariffs were a factor but not a significant one, according to the report which notes that most of the responses in today’s preliminary results were gathered before the collapse of US-Chinese negotiations late last week and early this week.

Consumers who, unaided, did cite tariffs as an important issue came in at only 16 percent of the sample vs a peak of 35 percent in July last year. Still, those who did cite tariffs this month had much lower overall expectations and, for inflation, much higher expectations.

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