The consumer sentiment in the United States dropped unexpectedly in the month of February from an 11-year high amid concerns over the slow pace of economic growth, indicating that a current weakness in spending might last for a while.
The recede in sentiment came despite strong job gains over the last three months, signaling towards in fastening wage growth and lower prices of gasoline, factors that the economists had hoped to be the major drivers of consumer spending in the coming months.
Jennifer Lee, a senior economist with BMO Capital Markets, “As it stands, the pullback in confidence, along with the early-year decline in retail sales, hints of slower consumer spending growth in the first quarter.”
On Friday, the University of Michigan reported that its consumer sentiment index tumbled to 93.6 in early February from 98.1, reading recorded in January. The decline could signal an increase in prices of petrol early this month.
Despite the drop, the University of Michigan index remained at its second highest level since January 2007.
The consumer spending, which accounts for over two-thirds of the economic activity of the country, got weaker both in December and January. The figures have surprised the analysts who had hoped that the cheaper prices of petrol and a relatively robust labor market would unleash a wave of flexible spending.
The financial markets of the country were slightly moved by the consumer spending data. The households in early February were less upbeat about the prevailing economic conditions and the outlook over the coming six months.