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Consumer sentiment misses expectations in March

Shoppers in a Safeway store in Wheaton, Maryland.
Gary Cameron | Reuters

U.S. consumer confidence was down in early March, according to a report released on Friday.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary March reading on the index was 91.2. It was down from the previous month's reading of 95.4 and also missed estimates of 95.5.

Consumer optimism was down for lower and middle income households although the reading improved for those with incomes in the top third.

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"The renewed concerns expressed by lower and middle income households mainly involved income declines and higher utility costs as well as disruptions to shopping and businesses due to the harsh winter," said Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin in a statement.

"Despite the small temporary setbacks, the overall level of consumer confidence remains favorable enough to support 3.3 percent growth rate in personal consumption expenditures during 2015."

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The gauge of current economic conditions fell to 103 from 106.9 in the previous month.

Consumer expectations index also fell to 83.7 from 88 in February.

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