U.S. Consumer Sentiment Slides In February, Survey Shows

By Agence France-Presse U.S. consumer sentiment faltered in February, a survey showed Feb. 27. A closely watched consumer sentiment index compiled by the University of Michigan slumped to 94.4 points in February from 103.8 points in January. The confidence barometer was a little higher than economists' expectations, however, and it was slightly up from early-February preliminary reading of 93.1 points. Investors scrutinize sentiment because it can sway consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. A breakdown of the index showed people particularly dispirited about the outlook. A "current conditions index" fell to 103.6 from 109.5 in January. But an "expectations index" tumbled to 88.5 from 100.1 in January. The findings mirrored a Conference Board survey, released Feb. 24, which showed consumers' newfound confidence crumbled in February in the face of doggedly sluggish job creation. The Conference Board consumer confidence index drawn from a survey of 5,000 households plunged 9.1 points from the previous month to 87.3 in February. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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