Customers ride an escalator at The Galleria shopping mall after it opened during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Houston Texas, May 1, 2020.

Adrees Latif | Reuters

U.S. consumer sentiment inched higher in the early part of May following massive stimulus measures undertaken by the government to sustain the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released Friday. 

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index came in at 73.7 for May. That’s up from 71.8 in April and well above a Dow Jones estimate of 65.

“The CARES relief checks improved consumers’ finances and widespread price discounting boosted their buying attitudes,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Surveys of Consumers, in a statement. 

The index of current economic conditions jumped to 83 this month from 74.3. However, consumer expectations weakened to 67.7 — a six-year low — from 70.1.

Friday’s report comes after the U.S. government reported  the biggest drop ever for retail sales. Last month, U.S. retail sales tumbled by 16.4%. Earlier this week, the Labor Department said another 3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. 

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