2011 Economic Calendar
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Consumer Sentiment 
Released On 5/27/2011 8:55:00 AM For May, 2011
  PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Sentiment Index - Level72.4 72.5 71.0  to 73.0 74.3 

Highlights
Consumers aren't as glum as many suspect, at least not based on the consumer sentiment index which really surged the last part of this month. The index for May came in at 74.3, well up from a mid-month 72.4 and implying a 76.2 reading over the last two weeks. This is just shy of February's recovery best level of 77.5 which was registered of course before the spike in oil took hold and before the disaster in Japan struck.

In an especially good sign, May's gain is centered in expectations which is the report's leading component. The expectations index rose to 69.5, up more than two points from mid month and up nearly eight points from April. Inflation readings are also favorable showing a major downtick in the one-year outlook to 4.1 percent, three tenths lower than April and the lowest reading since February. This reading suggests that consumers may have already adapted to $100 oil and $4 gas. Next reading on the consumer will be Tuesday's consumer confidence report.

Recent History Of This Indicator
The Reuter's/University of Michigan's Consumer sentiment index for mid-May rose 2.6 points to 72.4 for its best reading in two months. However, improved optimism was about the future, not current conditions. The current conditions component dipped slightly, almost certainly due to higher gasoline and food costs. Meanwhile expectations about the economy in coming months improved. Inflation expectations were little changed for the near term as well as for the five year outlook.

Definition
The University of Michigan's Consumer Survey Center questions 500 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
 
[Chart]
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.)
 

 

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