Consumer sentiment among Americans reached its highest level
in over a year on March 30, and it is likely not just because
everyone believes they'll win the Mega Millions lottery.
The final March reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of
Michigan overall consumer sentiment index reached 76.2, which is
reportedly its highest level since February 2011. This past
February the index was at 75.3.
Ryan Sweet, a senior economist with Moody's Analytics in
that despite some potentially troublesome factors, confidence in
the economy appears to be rising.
"Fears that the economy was going to slow substantially this
quarter were overdone. The economy is doing fairly well, given
the headwinds from Europe, rising gasoline prices," he said.
In another good sign for the economy, purchases increased 0.8
percent in February, according to data from the Commerce
Department. This exceeded the expectations of analysts polled by
, whose median prediction was a gain of 0.6 percent.
rose on the final
day of the month, following the positive economic news. The
S&P 500 rose about 0.50 percent to 1,410.33 as of 2:13 p.m in
The stocks of individual companies that rely on consumers also
performed relatively well on the day. Wal-Mart Stores (
) was up 0.67 percent to $61.23 as of mid-afternoon on Friday and
McDonald's Corp. (
) hit $98.11, an increase of 0.48 percent.
Bloomberg reports that other retailers like Nike Inc. (
) - which was up nearly 1 percent to $108.90 by 2:15 p.m. - have
seen increased demand.
"There is some stability easing back into the broader
marketplace as consumer confidence moves higher in some parts of
the world," Nike chief executive officer Mark G. Parker said in a
earlier in the month.
All of this positive consumer news comes amidst
reaching $4 per gallon, which is up 65 cents since the end of
2011, according to data from AAA.
So while everyone is lining up around the block of their local
convenience store to buy their Mega Millions tickets, one
shouldn't take it as a sign that people think they need to rely
on the lottery to get by. Rather, people might just be thinking
that maybe, just maybe, this is their lucky month.