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U.S. Consumer Sentiment Falls Less Than Initially Estimated In March

CONSUMER RETAIL 27Mar15

Consumer sentiment in the U.S. deteriorated by less than previously estimated in the month of March, according to a report released by the University of Michigan on Friday.

The report showed that the final reading on the consumer sentiment index for March came in at 93.0 compared to the mid-month reading of 91.2.

The final reading came in above economist estimates for 92.1 but was still below the final February reading of 95.4.

Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist, said, "The harsh winter weather and the small rebound in gas prices caused some slippage in consumer confidence since the start of the year."

"Importantly, most of the recent variation was among lower income households, whose budgets are more sensitive to higher utility costs and disruptions in work hours," he added.

Despite widespread expectations for an increase in interest rates, Curtin noted that few consumers anticipate that the size of the increases will dampen their credit sensitive purchase plans.

The report said the current economic conditions index fell to 105.0 in March from 106.9 in February, while the index of consumer expectations slid to 85.3 from 88.0.

On the inflation front, one-year inflation expectations climbed to 3.0 percent in March from 2.8 percent in February. The five-year inflation outlook also edged up to 2.8 percent from 2.7 percent.

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