Shoppers walk through the King of Prussia mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, U.S. (Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg)

U.S. Consumer Sentiment Cools on Buying Conditions for Durables

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumer confidence in October was slightly weaker than forecast on dimmer views of personal finances and buying conditions for major items, a University of Michigan report showed Friday.

Highlights of Michigan Sentiment (Oct., Final)

  • Sentiment index fell to 98.6 (est. 99) from 100.1 in September; preliminary reading was 99
  • Current conditions gauge, which measures Americans’ perceptions of their finances, dropped to 113.1 from 115.2; preliminary reading was 114.4
  • Expectations measure decreased to 89.3 from 90.5; preliminary reading was 89.1

Key Takeaways

Even with the decline, confidence remained near a 14-year high just before midterm elections that will determine control of Congress. But data from the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index show that the sentiment of independent voters is aligning more closely with Democrats, which may signal that Republicans are poised to lose ground in the Nov. 6 vote.

Sentiment in the Michigan index held up primarily because respondents believe the economy will produce strong job growth in the year ahead even if wage gains are tepid, according to the report. Near-term increases in inflation were expected to be temporary, the survey showed.

Uncertainty about how the trade war will affect American businesses and recent stock-market gyrations could weigh on consumer sentiment that’s been underpinned this year by tax cuts and one of the strongest job markets in decades.

Official’s Views

“Stock price declines, rising inflation and interest rates, and the negative mid-term election campaigns, have not acted to undermine consumer confidence,” Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan consumer survey, said in a statement. “Needless to say, consumers are not immune to these factors.”