March 15 - U.S. consumer sentiment plunges 5.8 point in March as shoppers express concerns about what's happening in Washington. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The Daily Digit is 5.8. U.S. consumer sentiment nose-dived by that amount in the month of March, according to a preliminary survey by Thomson Reuters and the /University of Michigan. The surprise drop to 71.8 from 77.6 in February puts the mood of the consumer at the lowest in over a year. The reason is that more and more Americans are simply unhappy with government economic policies, especially the ongoing fiscal impasse, including sequestration. Fewer expect to see improvements in growth or the labor market. People are also more pessimistic about the outlook for their own finances. Just 20 percent expect their situation to improve this year, a record low for the survey. Still, the damage to buying plans has so far been minimal, the survey found. A raft of recent data show that people are actually shelling out for long-lasting goods, like homes and cars, and generally aren't very frugal at the mall, prompting some economists to raise their economic growth forecasts for the year.