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U.S. Consumer Sentiment Sees Bigger Than Expected Improvement

U.S. Consumer Sentiment Sees Bigger Than Expected Improvement
2/15/2013 10:25 AM ET

Consumer sentiment in the U.S. has improved by more than anticipated in the month of February, according to a report released by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan on Friday.

The report said the preliminary reading on the consumer sentiment index came in at 76.3 in February compared to January's final reading of 73.8.

Economists had been expecting the consumer sentiment index to show a somewhat more modest increase to a reading of 75.0.

The bigger than expected increase by the headline index was partly due to an improvement in consumers' assessment of the current situation, with the reading on current economic conditions rising to 88.0 in February from 85.0 in January.

The expectations index also rose to 68.7 in February from 66.6 in January, reflecting an improvement in consumers' assessment of the economic outlook.

"What's helping these days?" Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital asked. "Continued job creation, a recovering housing market, and the strong rally in equity markets probably doesn't hurt."

"Let's hope this stronger confidence holds up. But we know how things can change quickly," she added. "A breakdown of talks in D.C. will very quickly slam sentiment easily. But in the meantime, stronger U.S. consumer confidence is always a good thing."

The report also said one-year inflation expectations held steady at 3.3 percent, while the five-to-ten-year inflation outlook edged up to 3.0 percent from 2.9 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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