Harsh winter weather left U.S. consumers feeling a bit less confident this month, the University of Michigan says. But confidence levels still remain at the highest level in eight years.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment slid to 95.4 in February from an 11-year high of 98.1 in January.
“It is hard not to attribute the small February decline to the temporary impact of the harsh weather,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist of the surveys and a consultant for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Consumer confidence sank dramatically in the hard-hit Northeast and Midwest and rose in the South.
Overall, consumers’ assessment of current economic activity and their expectations for the future both fell.
Earlier this week, the Conference Board, a business research group, said that its consumer confidence index fell a bit this month but remained at the highest levels since before the Great Recession began in late 2007.
A big drop in gasoline prices — which left money in consumers’ pockets and contributed to their improving outlook — has reversed in recent weeks: Gasoline prices have risen to an average $2.37 a gallon nationwide from $2.04 a gallon a month ago, according to AAA.
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