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Economic Report: U.S. consumers remain pessimistic about economy even as inflation fears wane


The numbers: Consumer sentiment rose in September to a final reading of 58.6 amid falling gas prices, though Americans remain broadly pessimistic about the economic outlook.

The University of Michigan index advanced from 58.2 in August but fell from an initial 59.5 print earlier this month.

Economists were expecting a reading of 59.5, according to a Wall Street Journal poll.

Consumer expectations for inflation over the next year hit a one-year low of 4.7% compared to 4.8% last month, while expectations for inflation over the next five years declined to 2.7% from 2.8% in August, its lowest level since July 2021

Big picture: Falling gas prices over the past several months have helped buoy Americans attitudes toward the economy, but persistent inflation in other areas like food has helped keep sentiment mired at levels typically seen during economic recessions.

Americans outlook on the economy “continued lifting from the extremely low readings earlier in the summer,” Joanne Hsu, director of the survey said in a Friday statement, adding that sentiment remained well below pre-pandemic levels.

“Inflation expectations are likely to remain relatively unstable in the months ahead, as consumer uncertainty over these expectations remained high and is unlikely to wane in the face of continued global pressures on inflation,” she added.

Key details: A  gauge of consumer’s views of current conditions rose in September to 59.7 from 58.6 in August, while an indicator of expectations for the next six months held steady at 58.

Market reaction: U.S. stocks were trading lower Friday morning, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average

and the S&P 500

each losing ground.

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