U.S. consumer sentiment drops sharply in October to lowest level since May

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The numbers:  The University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment fell to a preliminary October reading of 63 from 68.1 in the prior month. It is the lowest level since May.

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had expected an October reading of 67.4.

Another key part of the report is the measure of inflation expectations.

According to the report, Americans’ expectations for overall inflation over the next year jumped to 3.8% in October from 3.2% in the prior month, the highest level since April.

Expectations for inflation over the next 5 years rose to 3% from 2.8% in September.

Federal Reserve economists believe that if consumers expect high inflation it will be easier for firms to raise prices and thus higher price pressure is more likely to occur.

Key details:  According to the report, a gauge of consumers’ views on current conditions tumbled to 66.7 in October from 71.4 in the prior month, while a barometer of their expectations fell to 60.7 from 66.

What UMich said: “Assessments of personal finances declined about 15%, primarily on a substantial increase in concerns over inflation, and one-year expected business conditions plunged about 19%,” said Joanne Hsu, director of UMich consumer surveys.

Market reaction: Stocks
DJIA

SPX
were off their opening highs after the data was released Friday while the 10-year Treasury yield
BX:TMUBMUSD10Y
was down 8 basis points to 4.63%.

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