Consumer Sentiment Dips Again as Consumers Fret Over Coronavirus

Paul Ausick

Consumer research firm Morning Consult reported Monday morning that its consumer sentiment index slid from 111.5 on March 6 to 111.3 on March 7. Based on its daily surveys, this marks the 11th drop in 12 days to the firm’s consumer sentiment index. Since February 23, the index has dropped by 3.6 points

Of the index’s two components, consumer expectations of future business conditions dropped from 111.4 to 112.2. Between February 9 and February 23, the index had slipped by an average of 0.08 points a day. From February 24 to March 2, the index had plunged 10 times faster, dropping by a daily average of 0.8 points per day. This component of the consumer sentiment index peaked at 116.5 on February 13.

The current conditions component of the sentiment index peaked at 114.9 on February 17 and remained flat at 111.4 as of Sunday’s update.

A combination of concerns over the spread of the virus and the looming price war in the oil markets had U.S. equity markets are falling sharply Monday. The Dow Jones industrials tumbled more than 6.2% (1,607 points), the S&P 500 was down about 6% (179 points) and the Nasdaq Composite slipped by more than 5% (441 points). The VIX volatility index reached a 52-week high of 62.12 early Monday morning, but it pulled back to around 52.30 in the early afternoon.

The firm also surveyed 1,900 Americans last week regarding how well the president is responding to the coronavirus outbreak. Less than half (44%) of Americans strongly or somewhat approved of the president’s handling of the epidemic. A slightly lower number (42%) strongly or somewhat disapproved, while 14% had no opinion. One might wonder how the weekend’s events may affect those scores.