The overall consumer-sentiment gauge from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters rose to a preliminary reading of 82.6 in April — the highest since July — from a final March level of 80. For context, the gauge average is 86.9 over the year leading up to the start of the recession.
In general, confidence continues to hold up fairly well. While not especially strong, the resilience in confidence was one of the reasons we did not believe the sharp slowing in many growth indicators at the start of the year reflected fundamental deterioration.
Economists had expected a preliminary April level of 80.8, noting reports in recent weeks that have signaled improving economic conditions. For example, the U.S. Labor Department recently said that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 192,000 jobs in March, an increase from 144,000 at the start of the year.
However, there’s also been some volatility in stock prices, and gas prices have trended higher in recent weeks.
Looking at details of Friday’s sentiment report, a gauge for consumers’ views on current economic conditions rose to 97.1 in April from 95.7 in March. Meanwhile, the barometer of consumers’ economic expectations increased to 73.3 from 70.