2012 Economic Calendar
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Consumer Sentiment  
Released On 8/31/2012 9:55:00 AM For Aug(f), 2012
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Sentiment Index - Level73.6 73.5 73.0  to 75.0 74.3 

Of all the reports on consumer spirits, the consumer sentiment report shows the least weakness. The consumer sentiment index rose 7 tenths from mid-month to close August at 74.3. This is up a solid 2 full points from the final July reading. Importantly, the gain is spread evenly between the first half of the month and the second half which points to a steady slope of improvement going into September.

The gain is, however, concentrated entirely in the assessment of current conditions which is at 88.7 vs 87.6 at mid-month and 82.7 for July. This rise hints at solid monthly results for general August data including consumer spending and employment.

Expectations, the other component of the headline index, did rise 6 tenths in the second half of the month, to 65.1 vs 64.5, but are down slightly from July's 65.6. Other consumer measurements, including the Conference Board's consumer confidence report and the Bloomberg consumer comfort index, also show a lack of confidence in the outlook.

Part of this lack of confidence is tied to the prospect of rising gasoline prices, which look to reduce income and reduce discretionary spending power. Inflation expectations in this report are at 3.6 percent for the 1-year outlook, unchanged from mid-month but up 6 tenths from July, and at 3.0 percent for the 5-year outlook, also unchanged from mid-month but up 3 tenths from July.

Other reports on the consumer's mood are at 2012 lows, but this report is showing resilience and is showing the best strength of the summer. Nevertheless, the reports together do point to slowing consumer activity.

Consensus Outlook
The Reuter's/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index was up solidly for mid-August at 87.6 versus July's 82.7. But this gain did not translate into any more optimism on the outlook as the expectations index fell more than 1 point to 64.5 versus 65.6 in July. Together, these components made for a 1.3 point gain.

The University of Michigan's Consumer Survey Center questions 600 households each month on their financial conditions and attitudes about the economy. Consumer sentiment is directly related to the strength of consumer spending. Consumer confidence and consumer sentiment are two ways of talking about consumer attitudes. Among economic reports, consumer sentiment refers to the Michigan survey while consumer confidence refers to The Conference Board's survey. Preliminary estimates for a month are released at mid-month. Final estimates for a month are released near the end of the month.  Why Investors Care
Consumer sentiment is mainly affected by inflation and employment conditions. However, consumers are also impacted by current events such as bear & bull markets, geopolitical events such as war and terrorist attacks. Investors monitor consumer sentiment because it tends to have an impact on consumer spending over the long run (although not necessarily on a monthly basis.)

2012 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/131/272/102/243/163/304/134/275/115/256/156/297/137/278/17
Release For: JanJanFebFebMa(p)rMarAprAprMayMayJunJunJulJulAug
Released On: 8/319/149/2810/1210/2611/911/2112/712/21
Release For: AugSepSepOctOctNovNovDecDec

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