U.S. consumer sentiment improved to its strongest level in seven months in early August, reflecting confidence in the outlook for the economy and in personal finances as the U.S. stock market holds near record highs, a key survey showed on Friday.
The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose to 97.6 in the first half of August from 93.4 the month before, which was an eight-month low. The result exceeded expectations for a reading of 94, according to a Reuters poll.
Whether that optimism holds in the weeks ahead, however, is a major question following recent events stemming from a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers. There were not enough survey interviews conducted following the protests, in which one woman died as white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters, to assess how much the events might weaken sentiment.