The University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment was revised down to 95.5 in October from an initial reading of 96 today.
That leaves the index at the monthly average for 2019. But well below the post-recession peak of 101.4 set in early 2018.
Consumer sentiment, in other words, is holding up fairly well and there’s no sign of the kind of slump that leads consumers to pull in on spending and that might set off a recession.
That said consumers said in the survey that while they remain fairly optimistic about their own job situations and financial health, they are more worried about the economy than they were last year.
Which is, looking around, a pretty rational response to the continued U.S.-China trade war, and some negative numbers about the economy as a whole.
For example, the Treasury Department report today that the U.S. budget deficit for the latest fiscal year grew to almost $1 trillion. The budget gap increased by 26% to $984 billion in the 12 months through September. That’s equal to 4.6% of U.S. GDP and puts the budget deficit on track to grow to historic levels.
Today also brought worrying news from the market for subprime auto loans. According to Moody’s Investors Service, one auto loans from lat year are going bad at the highest rates since 2008 with defaults coming almost as soon as the cars leave dealers’ lots. (Those loans get packaged into debt instruments just like subprime mortgages are back in 2008.) Moody’s highlighted the default rates at Santander Consumer USA Holdings, a unit of Santander Bank, on of the largest subprime auto lenders for a rate of default that implies borrowers may be getting loans on fraudulent applications. Santander Consumer has had a fraudulent loan application problem before. Of more significance, an increase in the number of fraudulent loan applications would signal that some consumers are struggling.
Not much of anything else mattered today in the face of stories out of White House of progress on the Phase 1 U.S.-China trade deal.
The Standard & Poor’s closed uo 0.4% and the Down Jones Industrial Average was higher by 0.57%. The NASDAQ Composite ended up with a gain of 0.70% as technology stocks again led the way. The Russell 2000 small cap index gained 0.55%. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) climbed 0.71%.
With the market seeing less need for safe havens the yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed 3 basis points to 1.80% (as prices fell.) The yield on the 2-year Treasury kept pace moving u to 1.62%.
On the optimistic news on global trade, U.S. crude benchmark West Texas Intermediate an 0.66% to $56.60 a barrel, International benchmark Brent crude gauged 0.50% to $61.98 a barrel.
Not all safe haven assets fell, however, Gold climbed 0.17% to $1507.20 an ounce and silver gained 1.38% to $18.05 an ounce.
The U.S. dollar gained with the Dollar Spot Index (DXY) up 0.21%.