U.S. consumer sentiment slips in April
Washington — American consumers were a bit more downbeat in April.
The University of Michigan said Friday that its index of consumer sentiment slid to 89 in April from 91 in March. It is the lowest reading since September and the fourth straight drop. The index stood at 95.9 a year ago.
Consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions rose this month from March, but their outlook slid, dragging down the overall index.
Richard Curtin, chief economist of the Michigan surveys, said consumers may have been troubled this month “by growing uncertainty about the economic policies advocated by various presidential candidates.”
Rising gasoline prices may also have taken a toll. AAA says the average U.S. price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has risen to $2.20 a gallon from $2.04 a month ago.
On Tuesday, the Conference Board, a business group, reported that its measure of consumer spirits also slid in April; consumer expectations about the future fell to a two-year low.
Still, economists say the confidence readings are relatively strong. “In general, consumer sentiment and confidence indices have been erratic in recent months … but they remain at healthy levels,” Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc., wrote in a research note.
Michigan’s Curtin said the figures suggest that U.S. consumer spending will rise a respectable 2.5 percent this year when adjusted for inflation.