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posted on 13 November 2015

Preliminary November 2015 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Rises to Highest Level Since July.

by Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives/

[note that this post was authored by Steven Hansen]. The preliminary University of Michigan Final Consumer Sentiment for November came in at 93.1, an increase from the 90.0 final October reading. Bloomberg had forecast 92.0.

Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin makes the following comments:

Confidence rose in early November mainly due to a stronger outlook for the domestic economy. Overall, the most recent confidence reading was equal to the average during the first ten months of 2015, and higher than any year since 2004. Two trends dominated the early November data: consumers anticipated somewhat larger income increases during the year ahead as well as expected a somewhat lower inflation rate. This meant that consumers held the most favorable inflation-adjusted income expectations since 2007. Moreover, the somewhat larger gains were anticipated by lower income households. Buying plans for large discretionary purchases improved, especially for vehicles. Overall, the data indicate an expected rate of growth in personal consumption expenditures of 2.9% in 2016.

Preliminary Results for November 2015

Nov Oct Nov M-M Y-Y
2015 2015 2014 Change Change
Index of Consumer Sentiment 93.1 90.0 88.8 +3.4% +4.8%
Current Economic Conditions 104.8 102.3 102.7 +2.4% +2.0%
Index of Consumer Expectations 85.6 82.1 79.9 +4.3% +7.1%

Next data release: Wed, November 25, 2015 for Final November data at 10am ET

Caveats on the Use of University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment

This survey is quantitatively derived from a fairly complex questionnaire (sample here) via a monthly telephone survey. According to Bloomberg:

This release is frequently released early. It can come out as early as 9:55am EST. The official release time is 10:00. Base year 1966=100. A survey of consumer attitudes concerning both the present situation as well as expectations regarding economic conditions conducted by the University of Michigan. For the preliminary release approximately three hundred consumers are surveyed while five hundred are interviewed for the final figure. The level of consumer sentiment is related to the strength of consumer spending. Please note that this report is released twice per month. The first is a preliminary figure while the second is the final (revised) figure.

This is a survey, a quantification of opinion rather than facts and data. The question - does sentiment lead or truly correlate to any economic activity? Since 1990, there seems to be a loose general correlation to real household income growth.

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