Sometimes Google News finds my stories for me. First up — er, down? — consumer sentiment:
U.S. consumer sentiment fell 2.2 points to 81.9 in the final May reading from the University of Michigan survey. That shaves off about half of the 4.1 point increase in April to 84.1, and it’s little changed versus the preliminary May reading of 81.8. Most of the weakness was in the current conditions index which fell to 94.5 from April’s 98.7.
That slip is mirrored nicely by our next story:
Personal consumption—which captures spending on goods and services—fell a seasonally adjusted 0.1% from March, the Commerce Department said Friday; that was below the 0.1% growth forecast by economists. March’s growth was revised up to 1%, the fastest rate since August 2009, from the 0.9% previously reported.
In a worrisome sign for future spending, the strong income gains of recent months slowed. Personal income—which measures income from wages, investment and government transfers—rose 0.3% in April, down from 0.5% in March. Wage growth slowed to 0.2%, is lowest rate this year.
We were promised a return to robust growth (or something not entirely unlike it) following last quarter’s GDP shrinkage. But April is the first month of the new quarter, and if consumer spending — 70% of the US economy — actually shrank, then growth is likely to be as feeble as ever.