Consumer sentiment steady in February

Customers shop at a Home Depot store in Jersey City, New Jersey, Feb. 20, 2016.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Consumers were feeling slightly more optimistic than expected in February, according to a recent survey.

The Index of Consumer sentiment hit 91.7 in February, the University of Michigan said Friday. Analysts expected the consumer sentiment index to hit 91 for February, down from 92 in January, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

"Consumer confidence nearly recovered the entire small loss it recorded at mid month," said Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist.

Shoppers look at merchandise at a Walmart store in Secaucus, N.J.
Consumer confidence declines in February

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

Consumers' assessment of current economic conditions hit 106.8 for the month, up from 106.4 in January, while future expectations hit 81.9, down slightly from 82.7 the prior month.

February's reading is still below this time last year, when the index hit 95.4.

"Most of the decline from last year's peak has been in how consumers view year-ahead prospects for the economy, while the outlook for their personal financial situation has improved to its best level in ten years," Curtin said in a statement. "Rather modest wage gains as well as very low inflation have meant that consumers expect increases in their real incomes during the year ahead."

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