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US consumer sentiment near strongest level for two decades, UofM says

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Friday 22 Nov 2019

LONDON (ShareCast) - (Sharecast News) - US consumer confidence stayed near its best levels for nearly two decades in November, according to the results of perhaps the most closely-followed survey of American's mood.
The University of Michigan's consumer confidence index for November edged up from October's print of 95.5 to 96.8 points (consensus: 95.7).

Expectations strengthened, with the corresponding sub-index rising from 84.2 to 87.3, even as a sub-index linked to Americans' assessment of current

economic conditions slipped from 113.2 to 111.6.

According to the survey's chief economist, Richard Curtin, November marked the 30th out of the last 35 months that the headline confidence measure had come in at or above 95.0 points, a streak second only to the 34 out of 36 months of readings above 100.0 recorded between January 1998 to December 2000, averaging 106.0.

Coincidentally, impeachment proceedings occured in both periods, although at present the partisan divisions when it came to expectations were "much sharper", Curtin said.

There was now also a wide gap between the expectations of consumers and businesses.

"One side anticipates a recession, while the other side expects an uninterrupted expansion in the year ahead," he said.

"To be sure, there is ample reason for both optimism as well as pessimism, but not the extreme differences voiced by these groups."

"[...] Nonetheless, there is little point in dismissing the significant risks from potential negative shocks, associated with tariffs, impeachment, the presidential election, global growth, and geopolitical events. It has been differences in how these risks have been assessed that underlie the partisan differences among consumers and the gap in sentiment between the business and consumer sectors."