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Consumer Sentiment Withstands Economic Stumble

Consumer sentiment has remained steady so far this month, despite reports of weak economic activity to start the year.

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The University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters ""Index of Consumer Sentiment"":http://press.sca.isr.umich.edu/ stood at a reading of 81.2 in an early-look report released Friday. The index was unchanged from its final ""January reading"":http://www.themreport.com/articles/consumer-sentiment-index-dips-in-january-2014-01-31.

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The mid-February reading was affected by deterioration in the gauge measuring perceptions about current conditions, which fell to 94.0 from January's 96.8. That was offset by a pickup in the measure of six-month expectations, which rose to 73.0 from 71.2 previously.

The brighter outlook among consumers suggests spending may recover in the next few months following a slow January, but some commentators have their doubts.

""[T]he truth is that confidence has not been a reliable predictor of consumption for some years now, so this really doesn't offer much comfort,"" said Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist for macroeconomic research firm ""Capital Economics"":https://www.capitaleconomics.com/.

Instead, Dales says analysts should give greater weight to current trends in jobs and income growth, which he remains optimistic about.
""Once you strip out the effects of the bad weather, they remain fairly good,"" he said.

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