Consumer sentiment falls for second month in a row, but Americans also see inflation slowing

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The numbers: A survey showed consumer sentiment falling in September for the second month in a row as Americans expressed more worries about the economy, but it found that they also think inflation will continue to slow.

The preliminary reading of the sentiment survey dropped to 67.7 this month from 69.5 in August, the University of Michigan said Friday.

The index had hit a 22-month high in July before backtracking.

The consumer-sentiment survey reveals how consumers feel about their own finances as well as the broader economy.

Key details: A gauge that measures what consumers think about the current state of the economy fell to 69.8 in early September from 75.7 in August. Higher gas prices may have played a role.

Yet a measurement of expectations for the next six months rose slightly to 66.3, up from 65.5 in August.

Americans think inflation will average 3.1% in the next year, down from 3.5% in the prior month and the lowest reading in two and a half years.

The official rate of inflation is 3.7%, using the consumer-price index.

Big picture: Americans are of two minds. They think the economy is doing OK, especially because of a strong job market and low unemployment. But they also worry that higher interest rates and lingering inflation could eventually hurt the economy.

Looking ahead: “Consumers remain relatively tentative about the trajectory of the economy,” said Joanne Hsu, director of the survey.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.39%

and S&P 500
SPX,
-0.80%

fell slightly in Friday trading.



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