The specter of trade wars put a lid on consumer sentiment in April, according to the University of Michigan. MarketWatch reports:
The index of current economic conditions fell to 115 from 121.2, while the expectations index declined to 86.8 from 88.8.
What happened: The decline wasn’t big but was shared across most age and income groups, the University of Michigan said. The moves made by President Trump on trade—imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum and identifying possible levies on Chinese goods—were mentioned spontaneously by nearly a third of respondents, nearly all negatively. For those who were negative on Trump’s trade moves, the expectations index was 64.2, compared with 93.9 for those who didn’t mention it.
Another worry was rising interest rates, as the Federal Reserve lifted interest rates in March and said it was planning at least two more increases this year.
The big picture: The reading certainly wasn’t terrible, and with low unemployment, tax cuts and signs of rising wages, the U.S. consumer is in solid shape at the moment. The University of Michigan said the data are consistent with a growth rate of 2.7% in consumption from mid-2018 to mid-2019.