April 24th, 2024

US consumer sentiment ticks down slightly, but most expect inflation to ease further

By Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press on March 15, 2024.

Customers wait for gelato orders at a shop in New York on Sunday, February 18, 2024. On Friday, March 15, 2024, the University of Michigan releases its preliminary reading of consumer sentiment for March. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Consumers became slightly less optimistic about the economy this month, though they continue to expect inflation to cool further, a potential sign that price increases will keep slowing.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, released Friday in a preliminary version, slipped to 76.5 in March, barely below February’s figure of 76.9. Americans’ outlook has essentially remained fixed since January, when it leapt higher. Sentiment is about halfway between its all-time low, reached in June 2022 when inflation peaked, and its pre-pandemic averages.

Americans’ outlook on the economy will likely have a significant effect on the presidential race, which will likely focus heavily on perceptions of President Joe Biden’s economic record.

Friday’s consumer sentiment figure follows inflation reports this week that showed that for a second straight month, prices rose at a pace faster than is consistent with the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.

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