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U.S. Consumer Sentiment Drops Much More Than Initially Estimated In March

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Consumer sentiment in the U.S. deteriorated by much more than initially estimated in the month of March, according to revised data released by the University of Michigan on Friday.

The report said the consumer sentiment index for March was downwardly revised to 89.1 from the preliminary reading of 95.9.

The consumer sentiment index is now down sharply from the final February reading of 101.0, reflecting the fourth largest one-month decline in nearly a half-century.

Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin noted the steepest monthly drop was the 12.7-point nosedive seen in response to the deepening recession in October 2008.

Curtin said there were also two 12.2-point slumps in response to the 1980 recession and Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.

"The 1980 and 2008 collapses in consumer confidence sparked long and deep recessions," Curtin said. "The Katrina decline was reversed within three months, and some observers compared that 'V' shaped economic episode to the expected impact of the coronavirus."

He added, "What didn't show a 'V' shape response was the recovery of New Orleans, a closer comparison to today's national economy."

The report said the current economic conditions index tumbled to 103.7 in March from 114.8 in February, while the index of consumer expectations plummeted to 79.7 from 92.1.

On the inflation front, one-year inflation expectations fell to 2.2 percent in March from 2.4 percent in February, while five-year inflation expectations were unchanged at 2.3 percent.

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