Is Consumer Sentiment On the Rise?

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The index of consumer sentiment compiled by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan unexpectedly rose in January, an important boost for the U.S. economy as consumer spending is a big portion of gross domestic product.

This measure of confidence among American households increased to 73.8 last month from December’s reading of 72.9. Economist polled by Bloomberg had predicted the gauge to drop to 71.5.

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Consumer sentiment, a measure of Americans’ current ability or willingness to make purchases, was pushed up by falling gasoline prices and rising home prices. However, The Conference’s board’s reading of consumer confidence showed that people are increasingly pessimistic about their personal finances and job prospects in the future. Earlier this week, the board reported that its gauge fell to 59.5, the lowest reading since October 2011. While both surveys assess consumers’ view of their personal finances, they look at different time frames. The University of Michigan’s survey measures whether Americans think now is a good time to make big investments, and The Conference Board looks at expectations six months from now…

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