Consumer Confidence Measures Hold Near Recent Multi-Year Highs

The U.S. consumer confidence drop to a still-robust 117.9 from 119.4 (was 120.3) in April and a 16-year high of 124.9 in March left the measure well above prior readings of 116.1 in February and 111.6 in January. Confidence is still fluctuating around its highest levels since December 2000, and all the surveys have climbed into 2017 from pre-election levels despite Q2 give-backs. The Michigan sentiment index rose to 97.1 from 97.0 in April, versus a 13-year high of 98.5 in January. The IBD/TIPP index fell to 51.3 from 51.7 in April, versus a 56.4 cycle-high in February.

The weekly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort index slipped to a 50.3 average in the first three weeks of May from a 50.6 cycle-high average in both March and April that included a weekly 10-year high of 51.3 in March. Confidence, producer sentiment and small business optimism have soared since October alongside rising oil prices, a factory rebound that is expected to trim excess capacity, a flooring in inventories, gains for equity and home prices, still-low energy costs, and hopes for tax cuts and stimulus spending.

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