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Survey: Consumer sentiment in U.S. falls to 3-year low

Survey: Consumer sentiment in U.S. falls to 3-year low
Las Vegas Boulevard, also known as "the Strip," is seen nearly empty Thursday as residents and visitors in Las Vegas, Nev., complied with orders to stay home and isolate during the coronavirus crisis. Photo by James Atoa/UPI | License Photo

March 27 (UPI) -- U.S. consumer sentiment has fallen to its lowest level in more than three years, mainly due to the coronavirus outbreak, new data showed Friday.

The index compiled by the Surveys of Consumers at the University of Michigan dropped to 89.1 this month, its lowest level since October 2016 and its fourth sharpest decline in its near 50-year history. Customer sentiment was at 101 in February.

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The survey's economic conditions index fell from 114.8 in February to 103.7 in March while consumer expectations dropped from 92.1 to 79.7.

The group's chief economist, Richard Curtin, said the numbers will probably go lower before they rebound.

"If the consumer sentiment index were to stabilize at its most recent seven-day average, it would imply an additional decline of nearly 18.2 Index-points in April, which would amount to a record setting two-month decline of 30.1 points." Curtain said. "Stabilizing confidence at its month's end level will be difficult given surging unemployment and falling household incomes.

"The extent of additional declines in April will depend on the success in curtailing the spread of the virus and how quickly households receive funds to relieve their financial hardships."

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March's consumer sentiment index swung wildly by political party. Consumer sentiment rated at 111.2 among Republicans, 67.5 among Democrats and 89.3 among independents.

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