U.S. consumer sentiment index falls to 80.4 in January

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – Consumer sentiment in the U.S. dropped in its first January reading, hit by lowered expectations among lower- and middle-income households, according to a survey released on Friday.

The preliminary reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index stood at 80.4, lower than 82.5 in December.

The report comes after figures last week that shows progress in the labor market paused in December. Employment climbed last month at the slowest pace in nearly three years.

The U.S. economy added 74,000 jobs in December, the smallest gain since January 2011, after gaining 241,000 positions in the previous month, according to a Labor Department report released on Jan. 10. The jobless rate fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest since October 2008, but primarily because there were more people that left the labor force.

Estimates for consumer sentiment by the 67 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News ranged from 78 to 88. In the five years before December 2007, the index averaged 89. During the 18-month recession, the measure averaged 64.2.

The survey’s index for current conditions, which gauges Americans’ view of their personal finances, dropped to 95.2 in January from 98.6 in December. The expectations index for the next six months fell to 70.9 from 72.1 in December.

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