According to the University of Michigan, the confidence edged upward in September due to gains among higher income households, while the Sentiment Index among households with incomes under $75,000 has remained at exactly the same level for the third consecutive month. Importantly, the data provide no evidence of an upward trend as the average level of the Sentiment Index since the start of 2016 is nearly identical with the September level (91.4 versus 91.2).
All of the September gains were concentrated in the Expectations Index, while assessments of current economic conditions were slightly less favorable. Fewer reports of recent income gains were counterbalanced by an uptick in income gains expected during the year ahead. The larger recent gains among upper income households was partly due to continued declines in their inflation expectations. Buying plans edged downward mainly due to the declining availability of price discounts. Real personal consumption expenditures can be expected to increase by 2.7% through mid 2017.