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U.S. consumer sentiment highest since September
April 17, 2009 / 2:02 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. consumer sentiment highest since September

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumers have more confidence in the U.S. economy than they have had since the sudden collapse of Lehman Brothers in September, which caused the near-implosion of the global banking system, a survey showed on Friday.

<p>Customers shop at a Target store in Arvada, Colorado February 24, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>

The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said its preliminary April reading of consumer sentiment rose to a level of 61.9, up from 57.3 in March and was the highest since 70.3 recorded in September.

Financial markets did not react much at first. The dollar held its gains against the euro and U.S. Treasury debt prices remained lower. The Dow Jones industrial average added modestly to gains.

“The upshot is that everyone is now looking for upside surprises in the data, which tells you that all this is pretty much priced in,” said Carl Lantz, U.S. interest rate strategist with Credit Suisse in New York.

The survey’s index of current economic conditions rose to 66.6 in April from 63.3 in March and was the highest reading since December.

The index of consumer expectations rose to 58.9 in April from 53.5 in March and was the highest since September.

“While consumers believe the economy may have hit bottom, most consumers believe that when the rebound starts the economy will gain ground very slowly,” said survey director Richard Curtin in a press release.

“Consumers’ financial situations remain dismal as the majority reported that their finances continued to worsen,” Curtin said.

Consumers’ preliminary one year U.S. inflation expectation for April jumped sharply to 3.0 percent, from 2.0 percent in the final March survey, the biggest monthly jump since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but Curtin said that one month’s data is not a reliable guide.

Additional reporting by Burton Frierson, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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