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After starting the year at its highest level since 2004, US consumer sentiment ticked down in February, while still managing to post a marked improvement over the same month a year ago and extending its best three-month streak in more than a decade in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory.
The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment gauge clocked in at 96.3 for February, ekeing out a slight beat over the 96 reading that analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected.
While it represents a fall from the 98.5 figures notched a month earlier, it was still a 5 per cent boost over the same month last year. And, overall, the sentiment index has been higher during the past three months than anytime since 2004.
Economic expectations still reflect a deep partisan divide, with Democrats having a far gloomier view of Mr Trump’s future impact than their Republican counterparts. While those two groups’ expectations largely offset the other, independents have become the tipping factor, and their lean towards sharing Republicans’ optimism has helped drive the overall gains, according to the survey’s chief economist Richard Curtin.
“Since neither recession nor robust growth is expected in 2017, both extremes must eventually converge,” he said. “Although the data indicate a growth rate of 2.7 per cent in consumption during 2017, the data also indicate we can expect greater volatility and discretionary spending differences across subgroups.”