U.S. Consumer Sentiment Cooled Slightly in Late January

U.S. consumer sentiment edged lower in late January, adding to signs that consumers remain subdued about prospects for the economic recovery as the pandemic wears on.

The University of Michigan’s final sentiment index fell to 79 from a preliminary reading of 79.2 earlier in the month and 80.7 in December, data released Friday showed. The figure fell below the 79.4 median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

The gauge of current conditions slipped from the preliminary reading to a three-month low of 86.7, while the expectations measure edged up to 74, according to surveys through Jan. 25.

The weaker reading underscores how far sentiment must go to return to pre-pandemic levels as Americans face an uncertain path toward recovery in the economy and employment. Even so, accelerating vaccinations, slowing infections, and new stimulus talks in Washington offer reasons for optimism.

A separate report earlier Friday showed that U.S. household spending fell for a second-straight time in December and incomes rose with more pandemic relief late in the month. The number of Americans enduring long-term unemployment remains elevated, and initial jobless claims are well above the pre-crisis pace.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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