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Consumer sentiment hits 92 in January vs. 93 estimate

A shopper counts money at a checkout in a Best Buy store in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A shopper counts money at a checkout in a Best Buy store in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Consumers were feeling a bit less optimistic than expected in January, according to a recent survey.

The Index of Consumer sentiment hit 92 in January,the University of Michigan said Friday. Analysts expected a reading of 93 for January, up from 92.6 the previous month, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates.

"Consumer confidence has remained largely unchanged, as the January reading was just 0.6 percent below last month's level," said Richard Curtin, the chief economist behind the survey. "The small downward revisions were due to stock market declines that were reflected in the erosion of household wealth, as well as weakened prospects for the national economy."

A closely-followed barometer of economic health, the survey measures consumers' attitudes toward current economic conditions and future expectations.

The assessment of current economic conditions was down in January, hitting 106.4, versus 108.1 in December. Future expectations were flat at 82.7.

News of the survey came as new data showed the economy grew at a sluggish pace in the fourth quarter of 2015.

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Gross domestic product increased at a 0.7 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said, as warm weather dampened spending and low oil prices weighed on the energy sector. Wall Street traders reacted to the tepid GDP data, pushing back expectations for future interest rate hikes from the U.S. central bank until 2017.

"Consumers anticipate that the growth slowdown will be accompanied by smaller wage gains and slight increases in unemployment by the end of 2016," Curtin said in a statement. "Importantly, favorable financial prospects have become dependent on very low inflation. .... Consumers will actively demonstrate their resistance by moderating their purchases in the face of price hikes, thus acting to offset the [Federal Reserve's] rationale for higher rates."

— CNBC's Jeff Cox and Reuters contributed to this report.