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Thursday, September 19, 2019
HomeNewsEconomyPreliminary Consumer Sentiment “Surged” to 15-Year High in May

Preliminary Consumer Sentiment “Surged” to 15-Year High in May

Sale, consumerism and people concept - happy family with child and shopping cart buying food at grocery store or supermarket. (Photo: PPD/AdobeStock/Syda Productions)

Spontaneous References to Tariffs Could Weigh on Final Consumer Sentiment Reading

Sale, consumerism and people concept - happy family with child and shopping cart buying food at grocery store or supermarket. (Photo: PPD/AdobeStock/Syda Productions)
Sale, consumerism and people concept – happy family with child and shopping cart buying food at grocery store or supermarket. (Photo: PPD/AdobeStock/Syda Productions)

The Survey of Consumers preliminary reading on consumer sentiment in May soared to 102.4, a 15-year high that crushed the consensus forecast. The forecast range was a low of 96.0 to a high of 97.8 and the consensus was 97.5, slightly higher than the final reading of 97.2 in April.


Preliminary IndexPriorConsensusForecast RangeActual
Consumer Sentiment Index97.297.596.0 — 97.8 102.4
Current Economic Conditions112.3112.4
Index of Consumer Expectations87.496.0

“The Index of Consumer Sentiment surged in early May to its highest level in fifteen years,” Richard Curtain, Chief Economist for Survey of Consumers, said. “All of the May gain was in the Expectations Index, which also rose to its highest level since 2004, while the Current Conditions Index was virtually unchanged and well below the cyclical peak set in March 2018.”

Mr. Curtain did note the potential negative impact of tariffs on the final reading on consumer sentiment. Most of the gains were recorded prior to the collapse of trade negotiations with China and reciprocal tariffs.

As the above chart shows, spontaneous references to tariffs peaked in July, corresponds to the initial tariff imposition. Negative references to tariffs rose over the prior week and Mr. Curtain said they are “likely to rise further in late May and June.”

Nevertheless, this marks only the fourth time during the expansion that the Survey of Consumers was above 100, all of which were measured under the Trump Administration.

The final reading on consumer sentiment for the month is scheduled to be released on Friday, May 31, 2019 at 10:00 AM EST.

Written by
Data Journalism Editor

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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