Preliminary June 2012 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Below …

by Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives/dshort.com

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index preliminary number for June came in at 74.1, a 5.2 point drop from the May final 79.3 and the weakest reading in in six months. Today’s number was below the Briefing.com’s consensus forecast of 77. See the chart below for a long-term perspective on this widely watched index. Because the sentiment index has trended upward since its inception in 1978, I’ve added a linear regression to help understand the pattern of reversion to the trend. I’ve also highlighted recessions and included real GDP to help evaluate the correlation between the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index and the broader economy. To put today’s report into the larger historical context since its beginning in 1978, consumer sentiment is about 13% below the average reading (arithmetic mean), 12% below the geometric mean, and 13% below the regression line on the chart above. The current index level is at the 23.4 percentile of the 414 monthly data points in this series. The Michigan average since its inception is 85.0. During non-recessionary years the average is 88.0. The average during the five recessions is 69.3. So the latest sentiment number of 74.1 puts us below the midpoint (78.7) between recessionary and non-recessionary sentiment averages. The indicator can be somewhat volatile. For a visual sense of the volatility here is a chart with the monthly data and a three-month moving average. For the sake of comparison here is a chart of the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index (monthly update here). The Conference Board Index is the more volatile of the two, but the broad pattern and general trends are remarkably similar to the Michigan Index. And finally, the prevailing mood of the Michigan survey is also similar to the mood of small business owners, as captured by the NFIB Business Optimism Index (monthly update here). <a href="http://advisorperspectives.com/dshort/charts/indicators/Sentiment.html?NFIB-optimism-index.gif"

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