NEW YORK – American consumers' moods brightened in June, as their views on current circumstances took a solid jump forward, said a report released Friday.
The closely watched University of Michigan's (search) full-month report on consumer sentiment (search) during June showed a reading of 95.6, after the 95.2 seen in the preliminary report on June sentiment and the 90.2 seen in May, according to people who saw the report. The report is released only to subscribers. The index had stood at 94.2 in April.
The degree of improvement in the June number wasn't expected by economists. A survey of forecasters conducted by Dow Jones Newswires had expected to see a reading of 95.0 for June.
The Michigan data showed that assessments of current conditions also improved, with that measure standing at 106.7, up from 103.6 in May. The June current conditions index had been reported at 108.1 earlier in the month. Meanwhile, the group's expectations index moved to 88.5, from the preliminary level of 86.9 and 81.6 in May.
The Michigan survey data comes amid a complicated time for the U.S. economy. Most measures of economic growth are improving at a solid clip, including the most important measure, employment. But everyday consumers have been facing higher prices for gasoline, while national polls of consumer attitudes have shown an increased level of concern about unfolding events in the ongoing war in Iraq.
Into this environment, the Federal Reserve (search) will be meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday. The bank is widely expected to end the meeting by implementing its first interest rate hike in four years, pushing the current 1 percent federal funds target rate up to 1.25 percent. The Fed is seeking to normalize interest rates after an extended period of some of the easiest monetary policy in the bank's history.
The end-of-month Michigan data is based on a telephone survey of around 500 consumers, conducted by telephone. Generally, consumer confidence measures aren't held in high regard by members of the Federal Reserve, who have frequently stated they prefer to see statistics on actual economic activity, rather than what consumers say about their personal attitudes.