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Consumer Sentiment Continues Downtrend in March as Fuel Prices Soar

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Consumer sentiment declined further in March, dragged by higher fuel prices amid the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Source: University of Michigan

The Index of Consumer Sentiment stood at 59.7 in March, down by 4.9% from 62.8 recorded in February and 29.7% lower than the 84.9 seen in the same month last year. The same trend was seen in the Current Economic Conditions and the Index of Consumer Expectations.

Chief Economist Richard Curtin attributed the drop to the impact of inflation on consumer incomes, with inflation accelerating to its highest level since 1981 as the Russian invasion of Ukraine hit global fuel prices.

Consumers expect inflation to accelerate even further in the coming year, with expectations hitting the highest level since 1981, and gas prices are seen to mark the biggest monthly hike in decades.

Nearly a fourth of respondents cited the Ukraine invasion when asked about their economic outlook, accounting for the decline in consumer expectations across all households.

Consumers were generally optimistic regarding the economy, with the sole exception of the job market.

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