Consumer Expectations Rebound

Consumer Expectations Rebound

The Washington Post, quoting the preliminary results of a University of Michigan survey, found that consumer sentiment rebounded in the first part of (October) from a fall after last month's terrorist attacks. "While the early October reading is only slightly above the average level recorded last month, it represents a welcome halt to the free fall in confidence," said Richard Curtin, director of the university's surveys.

The University of Michigan's preliminary reading of its sentiment index for this month was 83.4, up from the final September level of 81.8, and almost back to the pre-attacks figure of 83.6. All of the improvement came in consumers' expectations of economic conditions a year from now. In contrast, consumers saw a continued deterioration in the current state of the economy, as that subindex fell to 92.1 from 94.6 for last month.

Economist Oscar Gonzalez at John Hancock Financial Services in Boston said "Americans seem to have rebounded to something approaching normalcy, but we are still in uncharted territory. My best guess is that confidence and spending will hold up."

In the same period, however, the Commerce Department said retail sales fell a record 2.4% last month, with purchases of new motor vehicles off 4.6%, clothing sales down 5.9% and food service sales 5.1% lower. Sales in general-merchandise stores, which include department stores, were down 0.4%.

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