New York -- The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index climbed to a better-than-expected 74.3, compared to 72.3 in July and representing a three-month high.
Aggressive retail discounting and record-low interest rates boosted the results, but unemployment remains a big concern.
“Confidence is lackluster,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics Ltd., told Bloomberg. “It typifies the economy right now. It’s not strong, but not collapsing either.”
The U.S. consumer sentiment gauge was projected to rise to 73.6, according to the median forecast of 60 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Estimates ranged from 72 to 75.2. The index averaged 64.2 during the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009.
The Michigan survey’s index of current conditions, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation and whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket items like cars, rose to 88.7, a four-year high, from 82.7 the prior month.