Consumer sentiment in U.S. fell less than forecast in June

Consumer Expectations

The index of expectations six months from now climbed to a eight-month high of 77.8 from 75.8 in May. The preliminary June figure was 76.7.

A report yesterday showed consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy, increased in May following the largest drop in more than three years. Purchases rose 0.3% after a 0.3% decline the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed. Incomes advanced 0.5%, more than projected.

Retail sales rose 0.6% in May, higher than forecast and the biggest increase in three months, Commerce Department figures showed earlier this month.

A bright spot continues to be automobile sales. Cars and light trucks sold at a 15.2 million annualized rate in May, putting 2013 on course to be the best year for the industry since 2007, data from automakers show.

Winnebago Sales

Winnebago Industries Inc. said its motorized sales order backlog has grown in each of the last six quarters, and it’s been increasing production of its recreation vehicles to meet demand.

“This is a reflection of our dealer network’s confidence in our motorhome products, as well as a confidence in the overall industry as they prepare for the summer season,” Randy Potts, chairman, chief executive officer and president of the Forest City, Iowa-based company, said during a June 27 earnings call.

Sustained job growth is helping support sentiment. Employers added 175,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department figures show. Hiring gains averaged 189,200 in the first five months this year compared with 182,750 for all of 2012.

Jobless claims decreased by 9,000 to 346,000 in the week ended June 22 from a revised 355,000 the prior period, the Labor Department reported yesterday. Smaller declines in headcounts indicate employers are confident enough that demand will be sustained as the housing market continues to improve and consumer confidence holds steady.

The Michigan survey showed that Americans expect an inflation rate of 3% over the next 12 months, the lowest since July 2012. Over the next five years, Americans expect a 2.9% rate of inflation, the same as projected the previous two months.

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