The University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters said that consumer confidence unexpectedly slipped for the second straight month. The Consumer Sentiment Index has dropped from 98.1 in January to a revised 95.4 in February to 91.2 in March, according to preliminary data. The January figure had been the highest level in 11 years. Americans continue to be more positive today than one year ago, with the index measuring 80.0 in March 2014, and as such, the longer-term trend remains positive.
However, these data also suggest that the public remains anxious, mirroring the caution seen in recent retail sales data. The University of Michigan survey indicates some easing in both current and expected measures over the past two months. Final data will be released on March 27.
Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.