Index of US consumer sentiment dips as stocks drop

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Associated Press

Posted on January 31, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 31 at 10:02 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of U.S. consumer sentiment slipped this month as stock markets fell, though confidence remained at a healthy level.

The University of Michigan said its index of consumer sentiment dropped 1.3 points to 81.2. That was up from a preliminary reading of 80.4 two weeks ago. It also marked a solid gain from a year ago, when the index was at 73.8.

Economists said the expiration of extended federal unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless may also have lowered confidence. Those extended benefits ran out for about 1.4 million people last month.

Still, consumers' assessment of their financial health reached its highest level in six months. And the number of consumers who said their incomes had recently increased has reached a six-year high, an encouraging sign for future growth.

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