WASHINGTON (4/14/14)--As perhaps another indication that winter's grip on the economy is loosening, consumer sentiment climbed by 2.6 points in April to 82.6, the highest reading since July, according to the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (Economy.com April 11).
In addition to improving weather conditions, encouraging numbers in the labor market also may be fueling a rosier perception of the economy in the months to come.
Buyers felt more optimistic about their current financial situations, with the subindex gaining 1.4 points to 97.1 in April, the highest reading since the end of last year.
The economic outlook subcomponent that tracks shopper sentiment also picked up more than three points, rising to 73.3, which is the highest level seen since August.
"In general, confidence continues to hold up fairly well," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics (MarketWatch April 11). "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."
Consumers also see prices climbing 3.1% over the next 12 months, the survey found, a decrease from March's reading of a 3.2% increase. They also believe prices will increase an average of 3% per year for the next five years, which sits a bit higher than the 2.9% consumers projected in March, according to Moody's.