American consumers regained their mojo in March, pushing the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment up to 98.4 from February’s 93.8.
Economists had expected the final read to match the preliminary reading for March of 97.8.
Consumers were more positive about both their present conditions and their outlook for the future, according to the survey.
The March gain was entirely due to households with incomes in the bottom two-thirds of the income distribution, according to the survey’s chief economist Richard Curtin. Sentiment among households in the top third of incomes fell slightly.
“Middle and lower income households more frequently reported income gains than last month, although income gains were still widespread among upper income households. Indeed, the last time a larger proportion of households reported income gains was in 1966,” Curtin said.
Lower expectations for inflation combined with rising incomes resulted in more favorable gains for real income expectations. All income groups voiced more favorable growth prospects for the overall economy.
Curtin pointed out that too few interviews were conducted following the summary release of the Mueller report to have any impact on the March data.