- Confidence restrained by a drop in gauge of present conditions
- Weaker views on personal finances paced by younger Americans
Consumer confidence in the U.S. rose less than forecast in August, reflecting a pullback in views on personal finances among younger Americans.
The University of Michigan’s preliminary index of sentiment climbed to 90.4 from a three-month low of 90 in July, according to a report Friday. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey called for a reading of 91.5, with estimates ranging from 89 to 93.1.
Payrolls have shown strong gains for two months and wage increases are slowly accelerating, giving consumers more confidence and power to spend. At the same time, uncertainty over the outcome of the presidential election could hold back the household demand that’s supported economic growth this year amid weak investment by companies.
Increasing uncertainty about the economy following the election “probably reflects each candidate’s focus on the negative economic outcomes if the other candidate is elected,” Richard Curtin, director of the survey, said in a statement.
A report from the Commerce Department earlier on Friday showed that sales at U.S. retailers were little changed in July, missing forecasts for an increase, as Americans flocked to auto dealers at the expense of other merchants.
The Michigan current conditions index, which is an assessment of the state of personal finances, declined to a five-month low of 106.1 from 109 in July. A gauge of expectations for the next six months rebounded to 80.3 from 77.8 last month.
Inflation expectations for the next year were at 2.5 percent, a three-month low, compared to 2.7 percent in July. Over the next five to 10 years, Americans expected prices to rise 2.6 percent, unchanged from the prior month, and just above the record low of 2.5 percent.
The index of current personal finances dropped to a four-month low of 119 from 121 in July. Only 30 percent of respondents expected their incomes to improve over the next year, the lowest since late 2014, with the latest decline coming among those under age 45, according to the report.
While respondents increasingly expect Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to defeat Republican Donald Trump in the November election, neither candidate was viewed as more likely to improve economic conditions or Americans’ personal finances, the report showed.
People who expected a Clinton victory were much more positive on economic prospects, according to the survey.