UMich consumer sentiment declined from 100.7 to 97.8 in the preliminary November print, disappointing expectations of a small rise as anticipation of a pickup in inflation and higher interest rates weighed on the gauge.

Even with the decline, sentiment was the second-highest since January, reinforcing other reports that Americans remain optimistic about employment and the economy.

Other highlights include:

  • Consumers saw the inflation rate in the next year at 2.6 percent, up from 2.4 percent the prior month
  • Consumers expected an annual income gain of 2.1 percent for the second straight month, the best two-period average since 2008
  • Inflation rate over next five to 10 years held at 2.5 percent
  • Six in 10 consumers saw stock-market gains as likely in the year ahead
  • References to low mortgage rates fell to 32 percent in early November from 40 percent last month

Consumers (and policy makers) have four key concerns: prospective trends in jobs, wages, inflation, and interest rates. An improving labor market was spontaneously mentioned by a record number of consumers in early November, and anticipated wage gains recorded their highest two-month level in a decade. These favorable trends were countered by a slight rise in year-ahead inflation expectations and a growing consensus that interest rates will increase during the year ahead.

Americans are as exuberant about their wealth effect as they were at the peak ahead of the last crisis...

“While the majority judged current conditions in the economy favorably and consumers anticipated continued growth on balance, consumers judged the outlook less satisfactory, and were equally divided about whether the expansion would last another five years,” Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan consumer survey, said in a statement.