US consumers are less optimistic about the economy for the first time this summer

Washington DC

Americans were slightly less optimistic about the economy this month, following two months of growing optimism.

Consumer sentiment, tracked by the University of Michigan, fell from the previous month to 71.2 in August, down from 71.6 in July. Sentiment remained on a high throughout the summer, largely due to Slow inflationAnd that’s well above the record low reached at this time last year.

“Overall, consumers perceived few material differences in the economic environment from last month, but they saw substantial improvements from three months ago,” University of Michigan study director Joan Hsu said in a release.

Expectations for inflation rates in the previous year fell to 3.3% from the previous estimate of 3.4%.

Gas prices, the most visible indicators of inflation for consumers, have risen in recent weeks, which may weigh sentiments in the future. The consumer price index rose 3.2% in July, up from June’s 3% annual increase, although underlying price pressures continued to ease.

“The University of Michigan’s consumer confidence index fell in August, but is likely to decline further due to recent increases in retail gasoline prices,” Oxford Economics chief U.S. economist Ryan Sweet wrote in an analyst note. “Rising gasoline prices have economic costs, and they can escalate quickly.”

If inflation continues to cool in the coming months, it will bode well for consumer sentiment. As recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco argues Shelter inflation is poised to ease significantly, reaching 0% in 2024 and then turning negative in the second half of the year. However, consumers are facing student loan payments again later this year, and that will weigh on household budgets.

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“The Michigan poll puts more weight on opinions about personal finances, likely to win when student loan repayments resume in October,” Kieran Clancy, senior U.S. economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note Friday.

If sentiment worsens sharply and remains subdued for several months, it could trigger a slowdown in spending as U.S. consumers limit their purchases in an uncertain economic environment.

Consumer spending cooled steadily from a strong start in January, but It rose 0.5% in JuneBusiness sector data followed a more modest pace in previous months. American consumers opened their wallets this summer, and many flocked The hugely successful movie “Barbie”.Attends concerts through Taylor Swift or BeyonceOr Foreign travel.

At next month’s policy meeting, the central bank is set to discuss whether to raise interest rates again or keep them steady. A sharp revival in economic growth could put some upward pressure on prices, complicating the central bank’s task of reducing inflation to its 2% target.

The Atlanta Fed’s real-time GDPNow tracker estimates that gross domestic product will register a 4.1% annualized rate in the third quarter. It will be a remarkable place 2.4% rate for the second quarter.

The first estimate of third-quarter gross domestic product is due to be released on October 26, just days before the central bank’s meeting that month.

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