2017 Economic Calendar
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Consumer Sentiment  
Released On 3/31/2017 10:00:00 AM For Mar(f), 2017
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Sentiment Index - Level97.6 97.6 94.7  to 99.9 96.9 

The consumer sentiment index eased 7 tenths lower in the final half of March to 96.9, below Econoday's consensus but still making for a 6 tenths gain from February's 96.3. The component for current conditions rose 1.7 points in the month to 113.2 which is a positive indication for March consumer spending. Expectations, which pivot on the outlook for jobs, held unchanged at 86.5.

A puzzle in the report is a noticeable decline in inflation expectations, down 2 tenths for the 1-year outlook to 2.5 percent and down 1 tenth to 2.4 percent for the 5-year outlook. The declines aren't due to gasoline prices which have been edging higher, not lower, and raise questions over the consumer's outlook for wages and general economic strength.

One signpost for March was the Trump administration's unsuccessful bid to repeal Obamacare in a reminder that politics are heavily at play right now in consumer psychology. The report once again notes the deep polarization between Democrats, who see a recession and inflation ahead, and Republicans who see the opposite.

Outsized strength in confidence is the unusual feature of the economic data right now, strength that only marginally, if at all, is beginning to help actual growth.

Consensus Outlook
The consumer sentiment index had been edging back but not in the March flash which came in at 97.6, within a point of its post-election high and where forecasters expect it to remain in the final reading. The report is noting extreme polarization in its sample, between Democrats whose expectations are near record lows and Republicans whose expectations are near record highs. The swing factor has been independents who have been closer to Republicans in their optimism.

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.]

2017 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/131/272/102/243/173/314/134/285/125/266/166/307/147/288/18
Release For: JanJanFebFebMarMarAprAprMayMayJunJunJulJulAug
Released On: 9/19/159/2910/1310/2711/1011/2212/812/22
Release For: AugSepSepOctOctNovNovDecDec

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