The government shutdown and debt ceiling debate took a big toll on October consumer sentiment, which fell to 71.2 from 80.2 last month, according to The Conference Boards Consumer Confidence Index.
Sentiment is now at its lowest level since April.
The two halves of the index both fell, but it was the forward looking Expectations Index that was hit the hardest, dropping to 71.5 from 84.7 in September. The Present Situation Index decreased to 70.7 from 73.5.
“Consumer confidence deteriorated considerably as the federal government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis took a particularly large toll on consumers’ expectations,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the research group. “Similar declines in confidence were experienced during the payroll tax hike earlier this year, the fiscal cliff discussions in late 2012, and the government shutdown in 1995/1996. However, given the temporary nature of the current resolution, confidence is likely to remain volatile for the next several months.”
Wall Street took the news in stride. At 10:20 on Wall Street, the S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group was up 0.4 percent, or 3.56 points, to 887.86, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead 0.3 percent, or 42.26 points, to 15,611.19.