U.S. Consumer Sentiment Gauge Declined in June--Update

By Ben Leubsdorf Features Dow Jones Newswires

A measure of U.S. consumer sentiment declined in June, a sign that public confidence about the economy moderated headed into the summer.

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The University of Michigan on Friday said its consumer-sentiment index was 95.1 in June, up from a preliminary June reading of 94.5 but down from 97.1 in May. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a final June reading of 94.4.

The index, which jumped following last year's presidential election, was up 1.7% in June from a year earlier.

"While the changes in sentiment barometers have varied lately, the levels of sentiment remain solid across these measures," J.P. Morgan Chase economist Daniel Silver said in a note to clients.

The details of Friday's report were mixed. An index tracking current economic conditions rose to 112.5 in June from 111.7 in May. An index tracking expectations about the future was down to 83.9 in June from May's 87.7. The overall sentiment index hit its lowest level since November.

Multiple gauges of U.S. consumer, business and investor sentiment jumped following last year's presidential election. But rising optimism about the economy hasn't so far been matched by a surge in consumer spending, business investment or overall growth.

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Some of those measures have drifted lower in recent months, though they remain high. The Conference Board's consumer-confidence index peaked in March with its strongest reading since the end of 2000 and declined in April and May before rising slightly in June.

In the Michigan survey, a partisan divide has persisted this year between pessimistic Democrats and upbeat Republicans.

"Surprisingly, the optimism among Republicans and Independents has largely resisted declines in the past several months despite the decreased likelihood that [President Donald] Trump's agenda will be passed in 2017," said Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist.

Preliminary data for June had found a drop in sentiment during the days after June 8, when former FBI director James Comey testified before Congress about his firing by President Donald Trump. "That controversy seems to have blown over quickly," Amherst Pierpont Securities chief economist Stephen Stanley said in a note to clients.

Friday's report also showed household expectations about future inflation firmed a bit. In June, consumers said they expected 2.5% inflation in five to 10 years, up from 2.4% the prior three months. The expectation for inflation over the next year was steady at 2.6%.

The Federal Reserve aims for 2% annual inflation, as measured by the personal consumption expenditures price index, but it has struggled to hit that target in the years since the 2007-09 recession. The PCE price index in May was up 1.4% on the year and prices excluding food and energy also rose 1.4% from May 2016, the Commerce Department said

Write to Ben Leubsdorf at ben.leubsdorf@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 30, 2017 11:19 ET (15:19 GMT)