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Dec. 20, 2019, 1:41 p.m. EST

UMich consumer sentiment rises in December to highest level in seven months

Final December reading 99.3 is up from preliminary 99.2 and prior month’s reading of 96.8

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By Greg Robb, MarketWatch

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People look at watches at an Apple store on Fifth Ave in New York City.

The numbers: The University of Michigan said the final reading of its consumer sentiment index in December was 99.3, up from 96.2 in the prior month.

Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a 99.5 reading as the preliminary reading for December was 99.2.

What happened: Consumers’ assessment of current conditions actually rose a bit, rising to 115.5 in the final December reading from 111.6 in the prior month, and the index of consumer expectations rose to 88.9 from 87.3.

Most of the December gain was among upper-income households.

Inflation expectations declined in the December survey. Over the next five years, consumers expect an annual inflation rate of 2.2% in December, the lowest expectations on record. Low inflation expectations trouble Federal Reserve officials, because it suggests consumers expect subdued growth ahead.

The big picture: The healthy job market and the rising stock market are bolstering consumer confidence.

What are they saying? “On the eve of 2020, real GDP momentum rests squarely on consumers’ shoulders. While we do not foresee a collapse of this growth pillar next year, we believe the watchword will be ‘cautious enthusiasm’,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

Market reaction: U.S. stocks moved higher into record intraday highs on Friday after the data was released. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.57%   was up 123 points to 28500 in mid-afternoon trading.

US : Dow Jones Global
-179.03 -0.57%
Volume: 436.04M
Jan. 22, 2021 4:59p

Greg Robb is a senior reporter for MarketWatch in Washington. Follow him on Twitter @grobb2000.

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