Economic Report: Consumer sentiment inches up in July on job market strength

The numbers: The University of Michigan said the final reading of its consumer-sentiment index for July was 98.4, up from 98.2 in June. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a 98.5 reading.

What happened: The index of consumer expectations rose while that for current conditions fell. Recent surveys have pointed to the most favorable personal finance expectations since May 2003, but consumers also have begun to take precautionary measures to increase savings and reduce debt, the University of Michigan said. Attitudes toward buying homes and vehicles have significantly receded from their cyclical peaks despite declining interest rates, the University of Michigan said. The big picture: The U.S. consumer is buoyed by the low level of joblessness — just 3.7% in July — even as the trade picture has companies nervous. What they’re saying: “A key issue is whether the recently announced tariffs on Chinese imports, covering more commonly purchased consumer items, will spark an even more cautious outlook. Aside from its direct impact on spending, the much more important issue is how much it lessens overall consumer confidence,” said Richard Curtin, the chief economist of the survey. Market reaction: U.S. stocks

SPX, -0.90%

 traded lower on Friday for a second day as the trade picture continued to weigh on optimism in the wake of President Donald Trump’s threat to slap a 10% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods.

                  

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