U.S. consumer sentiment rebounds; industrial output weak

Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:30pm EDT
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By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. consumer sentiment rebounded strongly in early October, suggesting that the economic recovery remained on track despite headwinds from a strong dollar and weak global demand that have weighed on the industrial sector, particularly manufacturing.

The snapback in sentiment reported on Friday underscored robust domestic demand and offered hope that consumer spending would remain solid enough to support economic growth, which has slowed significantly in recent months.

The University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index rose to 92.1 in early October from a reading of 87.2 September. The survey's current conditions sub-index shot up to 106.7 this month from 101.2 in September.

The index at current levels has historically been consistent with roughly a 4 percent annualized rate of consumer spending growth, according to economists.

"This suggests that U.S. household sentiment has turned an important corner, and is a hopeful sign on the outlook for consumer spending activity going forward, given signs of weakness in other parts of the economy," said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.

The rise in sentiment, which likely reflected cheaper gasoline prices, suggested limited impact from recent stock market volatility. Consumers were the most optimistic about their personal financial expectations since 2007.

Their views toward purchases of long-lasting manufactured goods were equally bullish.

Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity and has been the bright spot in the economy as the industrial sector wobbles under the onslaught of slowing global growth and the resurgent dollar, which have eroded demand for U.S. manufactured goods.   Continued...

Shoppers roam the aisles at the Safeway store in Wheaton, Maryland February 13, 2015.    REUTERS/Gary Cameron