Consumer confidence retreated in February from a 13-year high as Americans tempered expectations of their finances and the economy, with sentiment remaining sharply divided among party lines. The University of Michigan said that its preliminary index of sentiment cooled to a three-month low of 95.7 from 98.5 in January. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey called for 98.
While more than half of those surveyed expect better economic conditions in the future, and the share of respondents saying they were better off financially was at a 12-year high, the results reflected stark differences between Republicans and Democrats following the election of Donald Trump as president. Republicans registered sentiment about 40 points higher than Democrats, according to the survey.
â€œConfidence remains quite favorable,â€ Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan consumer survey, said in a statement. Still, â€œthe data do not reflect any closing of the partisan divide.â€ Six in 10 consumers surveyed mentioned government policy, either negatively or positively.
â€œIn the long history of the surveys, this total had never reached even half that amount, except for five surveys in 2013 and 2014 that were dominated by negative references to the debt and fiscal cliff crises,â€ Curtin said.
The sentiment reportâ€™s current conditions index, which takes stock of Americansâ€™ view of their personal finances, was little changed at 111.2 from a reading of 111.3 in the prior month. While consumers said they were better off financially than at any other time in the past 12 years, expectations for wage gains in the coming year deteriorated.